MSP Gil Paterson has called on his experiences living in poverty as a youth to explain why the new Child Poverty Bill is so important to Scotland.
The Clydebank and Milngavie MSP welcomed the bill and said Scotland has “a duty to end” the problem – where one in five youngsters are living below the breadline.
Mr Paterson said his experiences living in poverty as a child caused him to understand the true effect deprivation can have on children.
The Bill, published on Friday February 10, will see Scotland become the only part of the UK with statutory targets to reduce the number of children experiencing the damaging effects of poverty by 2030.
The government will publish a three-year child poverty delivery plan by April 2018, updated every five years, and annual reports to measure the progress.
Mr Paterson said: “The Child Poverty Bill is a hallmark of what this SNP government is all about – ending great injustice put upon those through no fault of their own. Now, we must take drastic action as a society to reduce and stamp out child poverty.
“This moment is special to me, having personal experience as a youngster living in poverty. It can be incredibly damaging to many, and cause great shame to those children who find themselves in this situation. As a child, I took free school dinners only until I became too embarrassed to by the bullying of others in the school. The good thing now is no one knows who gets free dinners and who doesn’t.
“The collapse of industry has thrust so many communities into poverty and marred the lives of many. The life expectancy statistics for parts of Clydebank and Glasgow, for example, are utterly shameful. We have a duty to end this, and we have to take radical action to mend the communities society has failed over decades of negligence.”
The Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/576.aspx
The Fairer Scotland Action Plan includes actions being taken to create a fairer and more prosperous Scotland, including eradicating child poverty