A little over a century ago, the cry among social reformers concerned about the plight of the poor was for a safety net to be stitched together by the state, to catch any of our fellow citizens who were falling into the clutches of destitution.
Had those same reformers witnessed what we have picked up during the past six months – from visits to food banks in Poplar, Waterloo, Leicester, Morecambe, Chester, and Glasgow – they would be appalled by the extent of hunger, homelessness, and insecurity afflicting so many families and vulnerable individuals in our country.
CPAG was founded more than fifty years ago to bring the facts of family poverty to government and public knowledge and to press for reform. The devastating report (2018) by Professor Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, shows how government withdrawal of responsibility and resources during the past decade has led to more families being pushed into poverty, and relief work by NGOs to alleviate poverty is not enough to compensate sufficiently.
The new £10 a week Scottish Child Payment for each child in low income families, announced by the Scottish Government last week, is a game-changer in the fight to end child poverty in Scotland - and a pointer to what is possible, and so badly needed, at UK level.