Blog: Helping to deliver a fairer Scotland

Aileen Campbell MSP

Aileen Campbell on her new role as cabinet secretary for communities and local government.

Being asked to be part of the Scottish Government to serve as the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government is an enormous privilege – that’s because in this role there is the opportunity to help build the fairer and more equal Scotland that I know so many of us seek.  And in doing so, break down the barriers that cause poverty and inequality.

Part of this work will be to build on the significant legacy left by my predecessor, friend and colleague, Angela Constance who was completely passionate and committed to equality and social justice.

And regardless of the hat I wear – be that Cabinet Secretary, MSP or as a working mum with two wee boys, I am acutely aware of the persistent inequalities that exist in Scotland.  That’s why, if we are serious about making Scotland the best place to grow up, we need to reduce the gap between those in our most and least deprived areas.  Because I want my boys, their peers and all future generations to grow up in a Scotland where everyone has their fair chance to flourish, free from poverty.

That is why I am proud Scotland has set statutory child poverty targets – the only part of the UK to do so – and look forward to taking forward all the actions in Every Child, Every Chance: our Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan which was published earlier this year.

This is an area where we can make a real difference to families throughout Scotland with actions including developing a new income supplement, a new £12 million employment support fund and a new minimum level for the School Clothing Grant.

And in addition to the work we are doing to help families, we also recognise that being able to access sanitary products is a fundamental right for those who need them. Following the end of our pilot in Aberdeen we announced a £500,000 initiative that will help ensure people from low income households can access these products for free. This August, I will be taking this further by making free sanitary products available in our schools, colleges and universities.

Over the past decade we have demonstrated a strong commitment to empowering communities and the importance of local decision-making.  In my new role I will be working closely with councils, businesses, the third sector and community groups as we continue to reform the way Scotland is governed. Our relationships with local authorities and COSLA are critical in delivering on our shared ambitions to serve the people of Scotland; I look forward to continuing to work together on a range of issues crucial to meeting the needs of people across the country.

There is a lot to be getting on with and I am excited about meeting with stakeholders and our key partners in the months ahead, to talk about how we can build on the great work we’ve already done together. There is no doubt it will be a challenge but tackling poverty and overcoming social injustices are two of the reasons I came into politics and I am passionate about fighting these with and for the people of Scotland.