By Lynda Williamson
The SNP has challenged the anti-independence parties to reveal their policies aimed at tackling growing income inequality across the UK.
The call comes as the Scottish Parliament returns from its summer break and after a devastating report this week from the National Children’s Bureau. The report, published as the children’s charity marks its 50th birthday, found that as many as 1.5 million more children are growing up in poverty today than in 1973.
Entitled Great Expectations, the study used data from a ground breaking national cohort investigation published in 1973 to compare the lives of children then with those of children growing up in the UK today. As well as the increased number of children living in poverty they found that children living in deprived areas were much more likely to be obese or to be the victim of unintentional accident/injury in the home.
The earlier 1973 report found a clear relationship between growing up in disadvantaged circumstances and reduced attainment in later life.
The Bureau's Chief Executive Dr Hilary Emery commented on the findings saying:
“Our analysis shows that despite some improvements, the inequality and disadvantage suffered by poorer children 50 years ago still persists today. There is a real risk that as a nation we are sleep walking into a world where children grow up in a state of social apartheid, with poor children destined to experience hardship and disadvantage just by accident of birth, and their more affluent peers unaware of their existence.”
Commenting, SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing said:
“The stark figures in this report on the failure of the UK to tackle child poverty and inequality are a serious challenge to those anti-independence politicians who continue to argue that Scotland should not have the powers over taxation and welfare that are needed to properly address inequality.
“This report sets out the reality for many people of decisions being made at Westminster. Despite Scotland being a wealthy and resource-rich country, the UK remains one of the most unequal societies in the developed world, and has been for some time - no matter which party is in Government at Westminster.
“The decision-making powers devolved to Scotland through the Scottish Parliament have been used wisely to make Scotland a better place to live, to improve opportunities for those looking for work or training, to ensure support for our elderly, for young parents and for those in need of a home. But until Scotland gains full control of its own finances, and is able to develop our own system of welfare, benefits and taxation, we will continue to be at the mercy of decisions taken remotely that limit our ability to do the best we can.
“The No campaign simply cannot explain why Scotland should not make the decisions over welfare and taxation that would enable us to take the action we need to deliver growth, improve living standards and tackle inequality.
“As this report shows, the status quo simply isn’t good enough and the no campaign are offering nothing that would allow Scots to change the situation.
"Scotland is a wealthy country, and only a Yes vote in next year’s independence referendum puts Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands – giving us the economic powers that we badly need to help us build a fairer, more prosperous society.”