Swinney urges ‘Westminster reset’ on child poverty action

Scotland’s First Minister has urged Sir Keir Starmer to commit to a “Westminster reset” on child poverty.

John Swinney made eradicating child poverty his key target when he first took over the job last month.

In the second full week of the General Election campaign, the First Minister declared the Tories “finished” as he urged the Labour leader to meet with him to discuss their “shared goals” in ridding the UK of child poverty following an invitation last month.

Responding to the First Minister, shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray claimed tackling child poverty was “in the Labour Party’s DNA”.

The Scottish Government regularly cites its actions to help struggling families, in particular pointing to the much-lauded Scottish child payment – a £26.50 per week per child payment for families already receiving benefits as part of the devolved social security system north of the border.

“Eradicating child poverty is my Government’s defining mission,” the First Minister said.

“The SNP has a proud record of action – with transformative policies like the baby box, free school meals, free bus travel for under-22s and the game-changing Scottish child payment, which is contributing to keeping 100,000 children out of poverty in 2024/25.

“The Tories are finished, so Labour has an opportunity to deliver a Westminster reset on tackling child poverty. They now need to commit to it.

Sir Keir Starmer
The First Minister invited Sir Keir to a meeting to discuss the issue (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“Once again, I call on Sir Keir Starmer to meet with me to discuss our shared goals and values on the issue of child poverty.”

Shirley-Anne Somerville – Scotland’s Social Justice Secretary – said the 14 years of Conservative-led governments at Westminster had “made the Scottish Government’s job far more difficult”, adding: “Sir Keir Starmer’s messaging has not been any more assuring.

“The Labour Party must finally commit to scrapping the hated two-child limit and other Westminster policies that stand in the way of Scotland’s own progress on eradicating child poverty.

“Uniting with a common purpose to eradicate child poverty is possible – and I urge the Labour leader to commit himself to that goal.”

Mr Murray said: “The last Labour government lifted thousands of Scottish children out of poverty and an incoming Labour government is committed to tackling child poverty.

“Hundreds of millions in funding that could have been used for tackling poverty has been handed back unspent to the EU by the SNP.

“While the SNP take pot shots at the only party able to kick out the Tories and tackle child poverty, Labour is committed to making work pay, raising living standards and delivering the change we need.”

The Scottish Tories have been contacted for comment.