The strategy will:
tackle the problem of workless households and low pay for families:
support families when they need it; and
The strategy follows a Treasury analysis of the scale and causes of poverty and inequality in Scotland. The analysis reveals a shocking picture of child poverty in Scotland. The picture, based on a snapshot of 1997 figures, shows:
41% of all Scottish children under 5 in poverty; and
60% of all children in a household where no-one has a job;
Unveiling the strategy the chancellor said:
'In 1997, our analysis shows that this government inherited a shocking situation of child poverty in Scotland. We must put an end to poverty being passed down from generation to generation and give all our children the best start in life.
'Our strategy to tackle child poverty is to support work but it is also to support families when they need it most. The evidence on child poverty also shows the need for early intervention to give very young children the best start in life. It also shows the need both for financial support and for proper support services - health, education and social services - to help families.
'We have allocated£42 million to local authorities to help give very young children in our most deprived areas a better start in life. Some of the money will be used to expand family centres which offer not only childcare facilities and play facilities but access to professional support for those who need it.'
Support will come from:
+350 million for the New Deal in Scotland helping families make the move from welfare to work;
the new Working Families Tax Credit which will guarantee a minimum income of +200 for families in Scotland. WFTC will benefit 140,000 Scottish families - 45,000 more that were previously entitled to family credit;
introduction of the National Minimum Wage; and
the new 10 pence rate of income tax, the cut in the basic rate to 22 pence and reform of National Insurance.
SUPPORT FOR FAMILIES
increase in the rates of support for children under 11 (within WFTC and income-related benefits) by£5.75 over the next year;
a new Sure Start Maternity Grant of£200 linked to contact with a healthcare professional;
increases in Child Benefit - by next year it will be worth +15 for the first child and£10 for the second and any subsequent children;
introduction of a new Children's Tax Credit which will be worth up to£416 a year; and
as a result of these measures spending on children in Scotland will increase by£500 million a year.
a£42 million investment to improve the provision of services for children in their early years;
an additional£510 million will be invested in education in Scotland; and there will be new measures to raise educational achievement level of all children.
The Chancellor made a speech to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities at the Crieff Hydro Hotel on 26 March 1999.