- 09:00 am, Fri 14th Sep 2012
WE NEED ACTION NOT TALKING
One in seven of Scotland’s poorest children regularly don’t get enough to eat. That is an appalling statistic contained in a recent Save the Children report. This hammers home that far from the SNP’s fascination with the constitution, the reality is that families the length and breadth of this country are struggling to make ends meet.
Here in West Dunbartonshire, most up to date research shows that in the last few years under the SNP we had the third highest rate of child poverty of all local authority areas in Scotland. Our levels of child poverty were sitting higher than both the Scottish and UK national average.
We have witnessed staggering cuts to services and it is shocking that in parts of Scotland there are people relying on food banks to get by. These are real and pressing issues now. The danger however is that action on poverty is being put on pause while the debate about separating Scotland from the United Kingdom takes over. Action is needed now to protect and support the most vulnerable in our society and the Scottish Government should not side-step the issue of poverty by using the referendum as a smokescreen.
This double-dip recession is hitting people hard across West Dunbartonshire. With every day it continues the number of people worried about their jobs, their families and their future, rises. Levels of youth unemployment are rising in West Dunbartonshire, with over 1,165 young people claiming job seekers allowance, and under the SNP there are currently 30 people chasing every vacancy in this area.
Labour’s landmark progress on child poverty has stalled under the SNP. With Labour, the percentage of children in absolute poverty fell nationally from 28 per cent in 1998/99 to 12 per cent in 2005/6. Under the SNP child poverty rates in West Dunbartonshire were recorded as high as 26 per cent for under 16’s – a five per cent spike on both the Scottish and UK average.
We urgently need to address solutions – creating jobs and stimulating the local economy; providing affordable childcare for working families and creating opportunities for all. Scottish Labour has plans at a local and Scottish level to do just that
Contrast that with the SNP’s priority – separating Scotland from the rest of the UK. Every problem in Scotland is explained away by “independence tomorrow”, but what about action on poverty today? Progress on poverty must not become a hostage of the SNP’s obsession with independence. To do so ignores what can and should be done now.