Wake up to bedroom tax

5th April 2013 at 01:00

Article 26 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: Governments must provide extra money for the children of families in need.

The bedroom tax and the raft of benefit changes that came into place on 1 April will have a detrimental effect on children across the UK and not least on the one in five children in Scotland who already live in poverty.

In my view, the effects of the new tax will be in breach of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). These detrimental effects on children will unfortunately soon be evident to teachers and support staff.

We already know that poverty has an impact on children's attainment at school and this will become even more acute as more children are forced to live in poverty.

The UK government measures will make it harder for families in need to take care of their children, when it is clear under the UNCRC that this is actually an obligation.

These changes will heap misery on families already struggling on the breadline, pulling more children into poverty. Experience and evidence demonstrate the corrosive negative impact this has on children's social, emotional and mental well-being and, as a consequence, on their rights.

While the bedroom tax and other benefit changes are the immediate threat, the long-term challenge is the complacency with which we tolerate one in five children in Scotland living in poverty.

The child poverty rate in Scotland, and across the UK, makes a mockery of our international obligations under the UNCRC. The other children's commissioners and I will be holding the UK government to account in our reporting to the UN committee.

Tam Baillie, Scotland's commissioner for children and young people, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh.

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