Well done to Councillor Cammy Day (Opinion, 02/07/18) for speaking out against rising child poverty in our capital. I grew up in a workless single parent council house in Fife during the miners’ strike, so I know first-hand about the impact poverty can have.
My route out of that was to work hard at school and go on to complete a degree and eventually a PhD. It breaks my heart, therefore, that children are still facing the same challenges I did 40 years ago but the escape route via education I found is simply not there for so many youngsters.
Almost one in four (230,000) of Scotland’s children are officially recognised as living in poverty – this is higher than in many other European countries. The SNP blame Tory Government for this, and the Tories blame the SNP Government. The truth is that both are to blame.
The Tory assault on the welfare system has contributed to the number of UK children living in poverty rising by 200,000 in 2016 alone. The Tories have also cut Scotland’s budget by 1.8% since 2013/14, but the SNP Government amplified this austerity by cutting Council funding by 7.1% – the equivalent in Edinburgh of £226 per person.
Whilst the SNP and Tories in Edinburgh remain silent on these cuts, our education and social care services are being starved of the cash they need to help the very poorest households.
Edinburgh needs all its Councillors to stop defending their party’s governing elite and start working to ensure the UK and Scottish Governments deliver secure employment, adequate social security benefits, affordable housing, affordable childcare and fair access to education.
More than 96% of the richest Scottish school leavers go on to a so called “positive destination”, the figure is just 85% for the poorest. Closing that gap by raising the attainment of the poorest is the only way to tackle poverty, but our capital can only do it if it has the funding it needs.