Yousaf urged to tackle poverty in upcoming Programme for Government

More than 150 charities, unions and campaign groups teamed up to write a letter to the First Minister.

Humza Yousaf urged to tackle poverty in upcoming Programme for Government STV News

Poverty campaigners have warned Humza Yousaf to come good on his promise to “eradicate poverty” during his time as First Minister.

More than 150 charities, unions and campaign groups have teamed up to write a letter to the First Minister, through a letter drafted by the Poverty Alliance, urging Yousaf to put poverty reduction at the heart of his next Programme for Government (PfG) which will be unveiled in September.

Campaigners have told the Scottish Government the agenda, which sets out ministerial priorities for the year ahead, must include a minimum income guarantee, an increase in the Scottish Child Payment and a pause in pursuing people who cannot afford to pay their debts to councils and other public sector bodies.

It also urges ministers to set out how it will fund new social homes for rent in an effort to crack down on homelessness.

The letter tells the First Minister that action is not progressing fast enough, despite Yousaf pledging that every penny of future Scottish Government spending commitments would be targeted at reducing poverty.

A ministerial working group has also been launched to assess how to reverse poverty rates.

But the letter from Poverty Alliance acting director David Reilly urged the First Minister to stick to his pre-election promise of working to eradicate the injustice of poverty.

He said: “We urge you to seize the opportunity to put action to tackle poverty at the heart of the forthcoming Programme for Government.

“All of our organisations strongly welcome the development of key strategies designed to tackle poverty and inequality in Scotland. While this leadership is extremely important… this has not yet led to a meaningful reduction in overall poverty rates in Scotland.”

The Poverty Alliance have also called for free bus travel to be expanded to under-25s, people in receipt of benefits, unpaid carers and asylum seekers.

Emma Jackson, national director Scotland of Christians Against Poverty, said: “People want a just and compassionate Scotland where everyone has the opportunity to flourish and it’s possible for us to achieve this.

“We need our government to take bold, urgent action, so that every household has sufficient income to live a decent, dignified, healthy, and financially secure life.

“This includes strengthening the public services that we all rely on, but which are a lifeline for people on the lowest incomes.”

The polices recommended in the letter were drawn up by a working group of Poverty Alliance members.

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.