Reaction to the Social Security Committee’s Stage 2 vote on the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill

The Social Security Committee at the Scottish Parliament has decided at Stage 2 of the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill that the upcoming Poverty and Inequality Commission should have a statutory role in scrutinising delivery of the child poverty targets.

Oxfam Scotland believes it vital that the Commission also a sharp focus on reducing economic inequality because at home and abroad it is clear that inequality is a barrier to poverty reduction.

Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland said:  “As recognised by Committee members, it is essential that alongside scrutiny of the child poverty targets, the new Poverty and Inequality Commission must also have a wider focus on poverty and inequality because these challenges are so deeply linked.

“We must avoid a situation in which we have a Poverty and Inequality Commission in statute but which in practice is a body focused narrowly on child poverty. We therefore welcome the desire for Committee members to have further discussions with the Cabinet Secretary for Equalities before this Bill is finalised.”

In April, Oxfam Scotland released the report ‘Building a more equal Scotland: designing Scotland’s Poverty and Inequality Commission’ outlining how the Commission should be setup to maximise its impact.

Ahead of today’s Committee meeting, the Scottish Government released a position paper outlining its views on the design and remit of the Commission with these referenced during the Committee by Angela Constance MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Equalities.

Livingstone continued: “The Scottish Government’s welcome proposals for the Commission reflect many of our recommendations for its remit, powers and focus, and form a strong foundation to build on.

“The Committee is clear that independent scrutiny of the child poverty targets is needed, but all parties must now work together to ensure the new Commission also has the wider remit it requires to succeed.”