Ebrief

Thursday 2 March 2017

Child Poverty

Proposed targets for addressing child poverty in Scotland are to be scrutinised by Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee as it begins its examination of the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill.

All of us can agree that there is no place for child poverty in a modern Scotland. The effects of growing up in poverty can last a lifetime and can impact on health and education long after the child has grown.

This comes in the wake of a new report by the IFS which exposes the devastating impact on children from Tory welfare reforms which will push more children into poverty, with absolute child poverty projected to rise to 30% by 2021-22. The Bill puts in place measures which require the Scottish Government to meet certain targets for the reduction of child poverty. These include seeing less than 10% of children in relative poverty and less than 5% of children in absolute poverty by 2030.

Whilst the Bill says it is ambitious, our Committee have launched a call for submissions because we want to know whether these measures go far enough in addressing this problem. We also want to know what difference this Bill will make to the lives of those children who are facing such hardship in Scotland right now.

We want to hear from all those with an interest in the Bill with written submissions to be submitted to socialsecuritycommittee@parliament.scot by 23 March 2017.

The Child (Poverty) Scotland Bill was introduced on 9 February 2017. Information about the Bill can be found here:

http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/103404.aspx

The SNP are absolutely committed to tackling the deep-rooted causes of child poverty, and will introduce ambitious targets to reduce poverty rates – after the Tories shamefully scrapped the UK-wide legal targets.

Scotland House

A new Innovation and Investment Hub in London will provide companies with a place to meet clients and customers, target new markets and secure investment. It follows the opening of the first Innovation and Investment Hub in Dublin last year with plans progressing on hubs in Brussels and Berlin.

Scottish businesses are being encouraged to register their interest in ‘Scotland House’, which will provide a meeting space for businesses and other organisations as well as London-based support to businesses working with Scotland’s enterprise and tourism agencies.

Members of Scotland House will be able to use the co-working and events space when they are in the capital and access a regular programme of business events and networking opportunities.

#GenderPayGap

The Scottish Parliament Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee have launched an inquiry into the gender pay gap in Scotland, and they need your help.03.17 #genderpaygap

From now until May, they will be hearing from a range of organisations, businesses, and academics on the gender pay gap in Scotland. The Committee will be asking what can be done to ‘close the gap’ and how this could affect the Scottish economy. They will then write a report with recommendations to the Scottish Government in June.

From 1st -10th March, they are asking you to finish this sentence #Ending the Gender Pay Gap because, and send them a selfie with your answer. You can use the template on the website or just write on whatever you have to hand! Tweet your photo to @SP_Economy using #GenderPayGap, or email it to

genderpaygap@parliament.scot.

Enquire

Children in Scotland and Enquire were in the Parliament this week promoting their invaluable services to children, parents, carers and practitioners across Scotland.

Enquire is the Scottish advice service for additional support for learning. They provide information through their helpline, website and range of publications.03.17 children in scotlandFor more information go to www.enquire.org.uk/information

Children in Scotland is the collective voice for children, young people and families in Scotland, and organisations and businesses that have a significant positive impact on children’s lives.

Their vision is that Scotland becomes a world leader in securing the wellbeing of every child and improving the quality of every childhood.

To find out more about the work of Children in Scotland go to www.childreninscotland.org.uk

Electronic Tagging

Views are being sought on how electronic tagging should be expanded – to help further reduce reoffending levels and keep communities safe.

Potential new uses for tagging, including new technology to monitor alcohol consumption and voluntary schemes for persistent offenders, are being considered as part of a major expansion of electronic monitoring, which would see new legislation being introduced.

The expansion could see tagging used as a condition of a community payback order, giving added security of restricting a person’s movement while carrying out a sentence involving unpaid work in the community.

Changes being explored include:

Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking technology in addition to current radio tagging

Giving courts the option of tagging as an alternative to a fine

Using tagging as a bail condition as an alternative to custody on remand

Introducing electronic tags as a condition of release from custody while a police investigation is ongoing

If you would like to participate you can access the consultation here https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/community-justice/electronic-monitoring-in-scotland/

Unaccompanied Children

The Scottish Government has further committed to doing all it can to ensure the safety and integration of unaccompanied children, following an expert roundtable meeting this week.

The roundtable meeting, between First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Equalities Secretary Angela Constance, and COSLA, local authorities and key stakeholders, focussed on a commitment to bringing forward a national framework agreement on unaccompanied children, as well as exploring further funding and capacity support.

The First Minister met with a group of unaccompanied children prior to the meeting, where she heard first hand of their traumatic journeys to Scotland, and the challenges they face while trying to integrate in a new home.

Scotland has a bespoke and well established Guardianship Service, funded by the Scottish Government, to provide additional support for unaccompanied children. Through the Dubs amendment Scotland has provided a safe place for 35 unaccompanied children, and Scottish local authorities are currently responsible for a further 75 who arrived via spontaneous routes.

Compassionate Farming

Compassion in World Farming (ciwf) are marking 50 years of campaigning for advancing the wellbeing of farm animals and ending factory farming and I was happy to meet up with them at their exhibition at the Scottish Parliament this week.03.17 ciwf

ciwf work tirelessly to improve the lives of farm animals through advocacy, campaigning, lobbying for legislative change and through positive engagement with the global food industry.

I was particularly interested in their Compassionate Food Guide which aims to raise the standards of commercial farming and to give shoppers information to help them make an informed choice when buying goods.

You can find out more about ciwf and their food guide at https://www.ciwf.org.uk/your-food/

Fair Trade Nation

Scotland has retained Fair Trade Nation status with 43% more consumers reporting that they bought Fairtrade products in 2016 than in the preceding year.

According to analysis by the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, in the last four years there has been a 30% increase in the number of towns with Fair Trade status, rising to 65 in 2016.

75% of local authority areas now have Fair Trade status with 70% of higher education institutions and 20% of schools achieving the standard.

Scotland was only the second nation in the world, after Wales, to achieve Fair Trade Nation status in 2013 and support sales of products that offer a better deal to workers in developing countries.

World Book Day

A challenge designed to instil a love of reading in young people is being extended to reach an additional 173,000 children across Scotland.

The First Minister’s Reading Challenge will now be open to children in Primary 1 to Primary 7, after the success of the initial scheme which was for primaries 4 – 7.

The challenge encourages children to read for pleasure and develop a life-long love of books by choosing from a specially-selected list of 100 top titles designed as a source of inspiration, which they can then add into a Reading Passport.

There are various awards for the number of books children read, as well as for especially creative book reviews and follow-up work.

The First Minister made the announcement to coincide with the 20th anniversary of World Book Day.

More information on how the First Minister’s Reading Challenge works and how to sign up can be found at:http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/readingchallenge

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