James Kelly MSP

Rutherglen Reformer - - News From The Pews -

Re­cent fig­ures from the End Child Poverty Coali­tion have shown that thou­sands of chil­dren in Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang are liv­ing be­low the poverty line.

One of the most wor­ry­ing as­pects of this re­port is that the sit­u­a­tion has be­come worse since 2015.

Young peo­ple liv­ing in Ruther­glen are more likely to be liv­ing in poverty than any other town in South La­nark­shire apart from Blan­tyre and Larkhall.

It is not ac­cept­able that 28 per cent of chil­dren in the town are hav­ing to live in poverty, mean­ing that 1,400 kids are hav­ing classed as liv­ing in poverty with that fig­ure ris­ing to 1,600 in Cam­bus­lang.

From 1997 to 2010, the last Labour gov­ern­ment took rad­i­cal ac­tion to com­bat the dis­grace of child poverty and suc­ceeded in lift­ing al­most one mil­lion chil­dren out of it.

This work has all but been un­done by a Tory gov­ern­ment that sim­ply does not care, while be­ing wors­ened by an SNP gov­ern­ment that does not have the am­bi­tion or will to do any­thing about it.

As Labour’s shadow fi­nance sec­re­tary in Holy­rood I put for­ward our rad­i­cal plan for an al­ter­na­tive bud­get that would de­liver real change that would top-up child ben­e­fit by £5 per week. This has been sup­ported by the Child Poverty Ac­tion Group.

How­ever, the SNP re­fused to ac­cept our pro­gres­sive pro­pos­als and in­stead have opted to sim­ply tin­ker round the edges and not take se­ri­ous ef­forts to ad­dress the chal­lenges fac­ing our com­mu­ni­ties.

We have been clear that if we use the pow­ers of the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment we can halt aus­ter­ity, we can pro­tect pub­lic ser­vices and we can fi­nally be se­ri­ous about end­ing the shame of child poverty in Scot­land. Dou­glas Dickie I am sure read­ers will join me in pass­ing on the best wishes to Dou­glas Dickie as he moves onto pas­tures new.

I have known Dou­glas for well over a decade and in that time he has proven time and time again to be a dili­gent and com­mit­ted jour­nal­ist, as well as the strong­est ad­vo­cate for this com­mu­nity.

In his time as ed­i­tor the Reformer has gone from strength to strength and while I will be sad to see him leave I want to wish him every suc­cess for the fu­ture.

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