Thursday, 24 February 2011

Severe Child Poverty Shames Scotland

The charity Save The Children this week published a report disclosing that there are 90,000 children in Scotland living in severe poverty. That's 90,000 youngsters growing up in households where the income is less than £134 a week. So, when the fridge or cooker, washing machine, electric shower or gas fire breaks down it doesn't get fixed. These are the kids who can't afford to go on the weekend school camp to Abefoyle or Dunoon or even outings to the zoo, the museum, the sports stadium or the cinema. They are the ones who will not meet their educational or social potential. They will not be our future doctors or nurses, teachers or firefighters. One in three children in Scotland now live in poverty, 90,000 children - the equivalent of a city the size of Paisley - re punished for being poor in a country which is one of the richest countries in the world.

In Glasgow almost 20% of children live in severe poverty. What does this say about a city which is spending a small fortune on the Commonwealth Games? How bitter to see those children most in need of help from the 'common wealth' again be denied it.

To make matters worse Save The Children's research covered 2009/09. This means it does not take account of the current economic downturn. The rise in unemployment and the cuts to lifeline public services will have made matters even worse.

Save The Children is to be congratulated for bringing the matter to our attention but as a charity it's limitations as an agency of change are laid bare. 'The Scottish Government must' STC say, 'set out a clear commitment to end child poverty in Scotland'. Must they? STC admit the Government have done nothing about eradicating child poverty in 12 years. And of course it never will. Labour, the SNP, the Tories or Liberal Democrats don't give a damn about child poverty in Scotland. They all share the neo-liberal belief that rich corporations are the priority in this country. These political parties, all in the pocket of big business, argue that the rich must be allowed to pay miserable wages, exploit the poor and pay negligible taxes [as Barclays did this year - 1% tax on it's profit of £8 billion]

So STC 'milk the cow and kick over the bucket'. They highlight how terrible the situation is but plead with King Herod not to keep murdering the first born. Karl Marx observed that 'Philosphers have merely interpreted the world, the point however is to change it' - it is also thus with charities.

And so it is to those with no illusions in neo-liberal 21st Century capitalism that we must look for solutions to severe child poverty in Scotland. We owe it to all those 90,000 youngsters and the millions more who will follow to eradicate the causes of this blight in our society.

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