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A five-point plan to tackle poverty

Ever heard of Boris and his dead cat? No, this isn’t a joke of questionable taste, it’s a media strategy that the Prime Minister likes to follow. It goes like this: whenever you have some bad news story coming your way, do something – or say something – to distract everyone.

He may not be a master of many things, but like some ruffled alleyway magician, Boris excels at this cynical ploy.

aahe master cynic pulled another dead cat from his carpet bag again last week. While everyone was berating the UK Government for the cruel decision to slash Working Tax Credits and Universal Credit, the Prime Minister decided to announce a major cabinet reshuffle. Political journalists and ordinary folk alike started to discuss the who’s-in and who’s-out. Meanwhile, the latest phase of Tory austerity rolled on.

And it’s no wonder the Prime Minister wanted to change the news. These cuts are ‘unconscionable’ and likely to ‘trigger an explosion of poverty’. Not my words, but those of the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Poverty.

Here in the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath Constituency, we’re going to be hit particularly hard. Over ten thousand working-age families will be impacted. In fact, outside of Glasgow, only Dundee West and Glenrothes will fare worse.

That’s why I used my slot at Prime Minister’s Questions to raise the issue. Unbelievably, the PM extolled feigned sympathy with the working poor, and steadfastly refused to answer my question.

The cut will go ahead. People will be pushed into poverty. And there is little any Scottish MP can do about it.

That is why the Alba party has proposed a five-point plan to tackle poverty in Scotland. We’re calling on the Scottish Government to introduce a £500 annual payment for every low-income household. We want to see free lunches and breakfasts for all nursery, primary and secondary pupils. We’re calling for free access to sports facilities for all under-18s. We’re pushing ministers to double Educational Maintenance Allowance, which would help 30,000 school and college students continue in education. And we want to see the Scottish Child Payment increased to £40 per week.

These are ambitious, yet affordable policies that would help stamp out child poverty across Scotland.

Of course, I would prefer we were independent and free from increasingly brutal Tory austerity. But, while we remain at the mercy the union, the Scottish Government must find the will to support ordinary folk in my constituency and across Scotland.

Originally published in the Fife Free Press

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