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Poverty debate, 31/01/08 [S]

During the meeting of the Scottish Parliament on 31 January 2008 MSPs held a debate on poverty.

The Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Nicola Sturgeon, opened the debate by referring to The Government Economic Strategy which was published in November 2007. She said that the Scottish Government wants to increase overall income, and the proportion of that income that is earned by the lowest 30 per cent of earners in the country by 2017. She said that also by 2017, it wants to narrow the gap in participation between Scotland's best and worst performing regions. She added that the Government is committed to halving child poverty by 2010 and eradicating it by 2020.

She also referred to the Government's discussion paper on tackling poverty, Taking Forward The Government Economic Strategy: A Discussion Paper on Tackling Poverty, Inequality and Deprivation in Scotland, which was published on 31 January 2008.

She moved the motion:

"That the Parliament agrees that poverty, inequality and deprivation are among the greatest challenges to be faced in Scotland today, that tackling these challenges is core to the delivery of the Government Economic Strategy and that development of a framework for taking forward these aspects of the Government Economic Strategy will contribute to the creation of a fairer Scotland."

In the closing remarks of the debate, the Minister for Communities and Sport, Stewart Maxwell, highlighted the importance of early intervention, and of giving children the best start in the early years and at school. He said that the Scottish Government want to extend the entitlement to free school meals to all children of parents or carers in receipt of maximum child tax credit and maximum working tax credit. He also said that the third sector has a crucial role to play in tackling poverty.

For full details of the debate read the Scottish Parliament Official Report 31 January 2008 which is available on the Scottish Parliament website.

Further information

Scottish Parliament Official Report 31 January 2008