Posted by Euan Bennet on 11/03/2014
This video produced by a group of charities fighting poverty has had over 66,000 views since it was uploaded eight days ago. It deserves even wider circulation as it’s a well-made, memorable presentation of just how bad a problem poverty, and in particular child poverty, are in Scotland. The group are called Scotland’s Outlook and they have gathered statistics demonstrating the impact of Westminster’s welfare cuts. Highlights include:
- 1 in 5 Scottish children is living in poverty (over 200,000 children).
- 65,000 more children will be pushed into poverty by 2020 than in 2012, as a result of ‘welfare reforms’.
- HALF of children in poverty (100,000) come from households where at least one parent is in work.
This post is a follow-up to an earlier post where you can find the statistics with supporting evidence of life under the Union.
Let’s examine the evidence to see if we can draw any conclusions about which of a Yes or a No vote is more likely to achieve the aim of reducing/eliminating child poverty.
After a Yes vote
The Scottish Government’s White Paper (pages 190-196) details what can be achieved only with the powers of independence. They propose implementing “transformational” childcare policies which would bring Scotland in line with Denmark and Norway as some of the best in the world. It is estimated that eventually funding 1,140 hours of childcare per year for all children between the ages of 1 and school age will
- Create 35,000 new jobs
- Give thousands of parents the choice of returning to work
- Lead to rewards later in life, since early years are very important for a child’s future development
Evidence that the Scottish Government will achieve this after Independence
- They have already increased the number of funded childcare hours for all 3 and 4 year olds and vulnerable 2 year olds.
- They have passed legislation which will provide free school meals for all children in primary 1 to 3.
- They have set out a clear path (in the White Paper as cited above) of how they want to proceed to the provision of the best childcare in the world.
After a No vote
Pro-Union politicians and commentators have claimed that these childcare objectives can already be achieved with the powers of the devolved Parliament. In particular the Labour party made these claims the day that they voted against free school meals for primary 1-3 children. Such claims are disingenuous, as the following graphic describes succinctly:
This graphic appeared in the Wings article cited above.
- Westminster is not even halfway through their planned spending cuts.
- Under-24s have had their benefits stopped without warning, forcing many to go without food.
- Food banks are preparing boxes of food that can be prepared using an electric kettle only, for people who cannot afford the energy to cook in an oven.
- Plans are afoot to sanction housing benefit if recipients are deemed to be ‘lazy’. Housing benefit is often held up as an example of the expense of the welfare system, but the goes nowhere near the people claiming it and instead goes straight into the pockets of private landlords.
- People are literally starving to death when their benefits are cut off without warning.
Visit the Sealand Gazette for a curated source of similar stories.
Evidence that nothing will change after a No vote
- Instead of mitigating their punitive welfare cuts, the UK Government is buying water cannons and rubber bullets to use on rioters.
- As tough as the measures described above are, with worse still to come, the Labour party is promising to do things differently. By being even tougher.
- A single publicly-owned bank is STILL handing out £576 million in bonuses despite making losses of £8.2 billion.
There is more evidence that nothing will change after a No vote: simply paying attention to policy announcements by both the UK Coalition Government parties and the Labour party will tell you that. It can’t be stressed enough that if you are a voter undecided about the referendum: please look at what the Yes campaign and Scottish Government are saying and proposing, and compare that with what the No campaign and UK Government are saying, then make your choice.
To break with the dispassionate voice for a moment because it’s been difficult to sustain it for this long, I have to add that researching and writing this post was both depressing and enraging. For me, the fact that there is ANY poverty and child poverty is an absolute scandal in a country like Scotland which is the 8th richest per head in the world, never mind the levels described above.
Look at the statistics in the Scotland’s Outlook video and website. Look at the difference in the evidence of the behaviour of the two Governments. A No vote is an endorsement of the system that has brought us these levels of poverty and inequality, and a request for more of the same. It is that simple. If you plan to vote No, you’d better have a damn good reason for deeming these conditions acceptable.
‘Shared history’ is NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
‘The risks of independence’ is NOT GOOD ENOUGH. In the face of the evidence that is available, that is an insulting argument. How much worse could things actually get?
‘I just don’t like that Salmond/the SNP/one single policy’ – Grow up. It’s about so much more than that. I would like to hear reasons why you hate Salmond so much beyond ‘the media tells me he’s Satan’ though.
Aaaand breathe. Had to let the anger out. That’s better.
Look at the evidence. Weigh up the options. Decide the best option for the future of all of us who live in Scotland.