Church of Scotland leader tackles government over child poverty

By staff writers
5 Apr 2011

A senior Church of Scotland minister has questioned the seriousness of the coalition government over challenging child poverty.

The Rev Ian Galloway, who is convener of the Church and Society Council of the Kirk, writing in his regular blog about the long-awaited UK child poverty strategy to be published before Westminster breaks-up for Easter recess, has accused the government of dragging its feet.

The strategy - which will lay out how the UK Government, alongside Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish and local authorities, will reach the targets of eradicating child poverty by 2020 - should have been published on 25 March 2011.

The document is now due today (5 April) according to official sources, but amidst growing concern from child poverty campaigners.

As Ekklesia reported earlier this week, and the BBC today, the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has written to ministers accusing them of failing to fully implement the Child Poverty Act. They insist that this is illegal and that the government is now exposed to the possibility of legal action.

The Save the Children charity has also expressed concern that the recent UK Budget announcement failed to address child poverty.

The Church of Scotland's Mr Galloway declared: “They’ve already missed that deadline [on this strategy], but the Government has assured MPs that [it] will be published before the recess. It is not just the date of release that the Government is dragging its heels on, however.

"The 2010 Act requires a commission to be set up, whose role includes giving advice on the writing of the UK strategy. I hope that this isn’t an indication of this issue dropping further down the list of priorities of our government.

"Both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats supported the Child Poverty Act when they were in opposition, so what is causing this reticence to comply now?

"To take the challenge of tackling child poverty in this country seriously, the UK Government needs to be serious about implementing this law,” concluded the Kirk's Church and Society Council convener.

The Child Poverty Act was passed with the aim of eliminating childhood poverty in the UK.

The latest statistics on relative child poverty relate to 2008-09. They show that 2.8 million, or 22 per cent of children were living in relative poverty across the country.

The definition is based on children living in homes with an income of 60 per cent less than the median UK income, before housing costs are attributed.

The Church of Scotland, in partnership with other faith groups and organisations, previously presented a response to a paper from the Scottish Government, voicing disappointment that it did not include strategic priorities or actions with long and short-term targets.

The Rev Ian Galloway's blog can be read at: http://www.churchsociety.blogspot.com/

[Ekk/3]

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