Gordon Brown warns of shameful child poverty in Edinburgh

Former Prime Minster Gordon Brown used a speech in Kirkcaldy to warn against rising child poverty rates under the Conservatives. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Former Prime Minster Gordon Brown used a speech in Kirkcaldy to warn against rising child poverty rates under the Conservatives. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
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CHILD poverty is three times higher in the Capital’s poorest communities than in its wealthiest areas, UK government data shows.

And the problem is set to reach unprecedented levels in the next five years, former prime minister Gordon Brown warned.

Speaking at meeting at Liberton High School last night in support of Ian Murray, who is seeking re-election as Labour MP for Edinburgh South, Mr Brown said shameful figures showed a record 320,000 children faced poverty in Scotland by 2022.

He quoted End Child Poverty statistics, based on official UK government data, showing that in Sighthill/Gorgie, child poverty now stands at 35.43 per cent. In Liberton/Gilmerton, the figure is 29.09 per cent, while in Meadows/Morningside it was 10.67 per cent.

A recent Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report said that numbers were set to rise to ­unprecedented levels within five years.

Mr Brown said: “By 2022, under a Tory government, we would see poverty as bad as in any year of the Thatcher and Major governments.

“One thing is certain – neither an SNP vote nor a Conservative vote on June 8 will prevent poverty rising.

“The Tories are cutting benefits, with child benefit rising only two per cent while prices have gone up 35 per cent.

“And the Nationalists have the power to act – to top-up child benefit, as Kezia Dugdale has proposed – to top-up credits, pensions, heating help and housing support, but they refuse to do so.”

He said seven years of UK Conservative government and ten years of the SNP at Holyrood had not made poverty less widespread but more widespread.

“What’s frightening is that so many children are poor because their parents don’t earn enough, even when they work,” he said.

“Tax credits have gone up four per cent – nine times slower than the rising prices people have to pay for goods and services and with ‘zero-hours’ contracts, a minimum wage that is still too low and further cuts in tax credits, incomes of families in work will deteriorate over the next few years.

“We must ask exactly what kind of country are Theresa May’s Tories attempting to create?

“And why are the SNP doing nothing about it if child poverty is on course to reach such shameful record levels?.”

Mr Brown said the election should not just be about Conservatives standing up to Europe or Nationalists standing up to Britain but “all of us standing up to injustice, standing up to poverty, standing up to deprivation and standing up to inequality”.

He said: “Ian Murray will fight for those girls and boys whose fathers or mothers work all week and still can’t keep their kids out of poverty.

“I believe, on June 8, we are not just casting a ballot but we are setting the direction of our country for years to come.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com