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ELECTION 2021: Alba announces plans to reduce child poverty

By Kyle Ritchie

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With a week to go until the Scottish election, Alex Salmond has unveiled the Alba Party’s proposals to reduce child poverty across the north-east.

The ambitious package includes providing free school meals for all school children, as well as doubling the Education Maintenance Allowance and funding access to sports facilities for young people.

Figures published last year revealed the extent of child poverty in Aberdeenshire, with almost 8000 living in poverty before housing costs and last year saw a two-thirds increase in Universal Credit applications across the region.

Councillor Brian Topping, who is still campaigning from his hospital bed in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, endorsed the proposals.

He said: “The fact that we have child poverty in Aberdeenshire is absolutely scandalous, and of course the double-whammy of the pandemic and austerity has made the problem indisputably worse.

"But there is an alternative and the Alba Party have some proposals which we think can really turn the tide and provide a better start for young people.

"Firstly, it’s important that no child comes to school hungry and that’s why we want to provide free breakfasts and lunches for all school children and, just as importantly, we want our school kitchens to be using fresh, local produce.

Councillor Brian Topping.
Councillor Brian Topping.

"The north-east has some of the finest local produce – fish, meat, fruit – and we should be using some of our great chefs to help prepare school menus.

"The proposals that Alba have announced also include introducing universal access to sports facilities to all young people under the age of 18.

"As the north-east starts to open again after the recent lockdown, the proposals would seek to appeal to young people who have been priced out of increasingly costly sports facilities."

Commenting on the proposals, Alex Salmond said: “Covid has shown us, in the starkest way possible, the division in our society between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots.’ Covid did not create these divisions but it has exacerbated them.

"As the country recovers from the pandemic it is time for Scotland to think big about the kind of country we want to be. These specific targeted measures represent a step change in addressing poverty and each one will make a real and meaningful difference to the lives of children and families across the country.”

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