I was genuinely outraged to read Cllr Mary Campbell’s demand that the School Clothing Grant be increased in Edinburgh for children from low income families. It is cynical acts like this that undermine the reputation of all Councillors.
As she well knows, all parties in Edinburgh supported my motion last year asking for the School Clothing Grant be increased after I noted that Edinburgh offers one of the lowest levels of support in Scotland – a fact that should shame us all.
Since then, I have spoken to Council Officers about the work they are doing with “The Cost of the School Day” project. This goes beyond uniforms and encourages people to think about all of the costs associated with attending school, ranging from buses to snacks and trips. I’m hugely proud of how the schools, parents and children in my Ward have engaged with this. It has increased awareness of how child poverty is rising and lets people play a small part in fighting it.
I anticipate the forthcoming city budget will contain a mention of the steps the Council is taking to tackle child poverty, and that this will include an increase to the School Clothing Grant. The biggest barrier to making real change here is, however, the budget settlement forced on Edinburgh by the Greens and the SNP.
Cllr Mary Campbell, a Green Councillor, was all too quick to call the settlement “good news”, but the 3.6% real terms cut she backed has made it impossible to increase the School Clothing Grant to the level I hoped for and that which the most deprived households need.
This is heart-breaking for me, but it is a tragedy for many low income families in Edinburgh who had hoped the council could do more to protect them. Cllr Mary Campbell should be ashamed of this rather than making cynical demands in the Evening News.