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Tackling poverty

Published: 10 Jun 2016 00:01

New powers can help address inequalities.

Investment in addressing the deep-rooted causes of poverty would be greatly increased if the Scottish Government wasn't being continually forced to spend money on tackling the negative impact of UK Government welfare cuts.

That was the message from the new Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman ahead of her first keynote address to the Child Poverty Action Group's annual conference.

Ms Freeman stressed that spending £100 million a year tackling the effects of the UK Government's welfare changes, including fully mitigating the bedroom tax, has a direct impact on the money available to address the longer term cycles of poverty.

The Minister also underlined the importance of the new social security powers and said the Scottish Government will continue to use a range of measures, including the new powers, to tackle inequalities and try to lift as many people - especially families with young children - out of poverty as possible.

She said:

"Over the past few years UK Government delays to benefits, increased benefit sanctions, and continued cuts have pushed people - including many families with young children - into crisis situations on a daily or weekly basis.

"These devastating cuts undermine the dignity and rights of children and adults alike and are both irresponsible and completely unacceptable.

"And while the Scottish Government is funding schemes to tackle the immediate effects of these crippling UK Government cuts, it means we then have less money available to make as much progress as we could on the deep-rooted issues we know exist, which is incredibly frustrating.

"Put simply, we want to use our resources to take positive action, tackle existing inequalities and lift people out of poverty, not fight just to keep people at a standing position.

"That's why our new social security powers are so important.

"We will reform the benefits that will be devolved to us. We will improve the processes and we will make them fairer and ensure dignity and respect runs throughout. We will ensure as a priority that there is a smooth transfer of these benefits and that households continue to receive them on time and in the right amount. We will use the powers to tackle poverty at its very core, we will use them to support and help those on low incomes and we will use them to protect our most vulnerable.

"Our overarching aim is to create a social security system that is there to help and support those who need it, when they need it and of which all Scots can be proud."

Notes to editors

More information on the devolved social security powers can be found at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/People/fairerscotland/future-powers