Recovery from COVID-19 must tackle poverty, says McMillan

During this year’s Challenge Poverty Week (5-11 October 2020), Stuart McMillan MSP is highlighting why Scotland’s economic recovery from COVID-19 must include actions to tackle poverty.

Commenting, Stuart said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that we want to look after each other. As we look towards recovery from this public health crisis, it is crucial that we redesign our economy to reflect the values of justice and compassion we all share.

“In Inverclyde and across Scotland, too many people are living in poverty.

“Poverty takes a huge toll on people’s physical and mental health, and is more likely to impact women, disabled people and people from the black and ethnic minority backgrounds.

“The Scottish Government is determined to protect people from the economic impact of COVID-19 as far as possible, and wants to ensure that Scotland emerges from this crisis as a fairer and more equal nation.

“So far, the Scottish Government have committed over £110 million to tackle food insecurity since the outset of the pandemic, which included support for free school meals to continue over the summer holidays.

“Investment in the Scottish Welfare Fund has also doubled, and the Scottish Government have established the new Scottish Child Payment – which will be a game-changer in the fight against child poverty. Applications for this will open next month, and I would encourage everyone locally who is eligible to apply.

“While I welcome these actions, there is still much more to do to eliminate poverty in Scotland. Challenge Poverty Week is an opportunity to raise awareness about the reality of poverty in Scotland, and it allows people to come together to discuss solutions and to campaign for change.

“Food bank usage has rocketed both locally and across the UK, with low income, benefit delays and benefit changes being cited as the primary reason for this, according to the Trussell Trust.

“The Scottish Government is determined to boost people’s incomes where it can, but the power to do this ultimately lies with the UK Government. Social Security Scotland has limited scope to deliver new benefits, and so this Challenge Poverty Week I’m urging the UK Government to remove the five-week wait for Universal Credit, and to devolve further social security powers to Scotland.”

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