Readers' letters: Scotland's record on child poverty is better than England or Wales

It’s obvious that Kirsty McNeill, and Gordon Brown’s think tank, (News, 3 February) has not read the Joseph Rowntree Trust report on UK poverty 2023 published last month which clearly indicated that the Scottish Government is doing much better on tackling poverty than Labour in Wales or in Tory England.
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The report stated that Scotland has a lower rate of poverty (18 per cent) than England (22 per cent) and Wales (24 per cent). It praised the positive move in Scotland to introduce the Scottish child payment scheme whereby poorer households receive £25 a week for each child under 16.

The Council Tax Reduction scheme is also unique to Scotland and helps people on low incomes save an average of £750 a year on their council tax bill. Those eligible can also save up to 35 per cent on their water and waste charges. The Scottish Government has to spend over £1.4 billion each year to mitigate some of the UK Tory government’s welfare benefit cuts.

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Ms McNeill is wrong when she claims independence would exacerbate poverty as the GERS notional deficit of £15 billion will be wiped out by the £20bn extra the UK Government expects to get from Scotland’s North Sea over each of the next few years and by re-joining the EU Scotland could match Ireland’s economic growth.

Poorer Scottish households receive £25 a week for each child under 16Poorer Scottish households receive £25 a week for each child under 16
Poorer Scottish households receive £25 a week for each child under 16

As Keir Starmer refuses to take the UK back into the EU, the UK will remain the sick man of Europe in economic terms no matter who is in power at Westminster.

​Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

Mental health fears

We are at the start of Children’s Mental Health Week (6-12 February), which shines a spotlight on the importance of children and young people’s mental health. The rise in such problems has previously been labelled as a mental health crisis and one of the greatest public health challenges of our times.

These problems are even more worrying when they concern the mental fitness of our younger generations, and how we are preparing them to face the growing challenges of entering adulthood.

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Against this backdrop, our mental health services are however facing overwhelming and unprecedented pressures, which existed even before the pandemic and are becoming further exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis.

Too many young people are waiting too long for treatment and theescalating number of those seeking support, faced with inadequate services, could potentially lead to a lost generation of vulnerable children and young people who are missing out on the support they vitally need.

Against the perfect storm of a mental health crisis combined with the long shadow of lockdown and the rising cost of living, we must not lose sight of the challenges that our children and young people are facing, renew our efforts in a national crusade to ensure that they receive adequate mental health support.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (Kenny Graham, Lynn Bell, Stephen McGhee, Niall Kelly), Edinbugh

Hunt for homes

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Miles Briggs (News, 3 February) is rather misleading on homelessness as in fact just 1,644 of Scotland’s 28,944 homelessness applicants reported rough-sleeping in 2022. Instead, the majority reside in “temporary accommodation” provided by councils.

I don’t know just where in Edinburgh Miles Briggs thinks more affordable houses can be built, as it seems every vacant site is bought up by wealthy student accommodation firms and then approved by a city council that should be giving priority to local workers who can’t find affordable housing in Edinburgh.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh

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