Excluded Voices on the Smacking Ban

“I don’t feel scarred by smacking and am not the psychologically damaged person supporters of the ban wish I was.”

This article appeared in the print edition of the Evening Telegraph: 26/10/2020

One year ago, the Scottish Parliament voted by 84 votes to 29 to pass The Children (Equal Protection from Assault) Bill making Scotland the first UK country to define it as a criminal offence for a parent to smack their child. An advert released last week by the Scottish Government urges the public observing parents “physically punishing their child [to] call 999 to report a crime.” Last May, Children’s Minister Maree Todd assured parliamentarians that “our intention is not to criminalise parents.”

The legislation will come into effect next month but, throughout the debate which surrounded the proposed bill between 2017 and 2019, what astounded me most was the way in which the voices of young people and particularly those who would have had relatively recent experience of smacking were excluded. In fact, I found it sinister that some of the very charities who often herald the amplification children’s voices were those most opposed to their input on this particular topic of conversation.

Last week, I spoke to 19-year-old Lily Waiton from Tayport, who has relatively recent experience of smacking. She became linked to the smacking ban when accompanying her father, Dr Stuart Waiton, to parliamentary and public events where he spoke in opposition to it and pointed to his “violated” daughter. Lily laughs as I remind her of the hustings in Dundee where this also took place but she says: “He was right though, I am not the psychologically damaged person supporters [of the ban] wish I was.”

Lily just emerged into adulthood as the bill was presented in 2017 and spoke to me of her experiences. She said: “I was only ever smacked a handful of times and I knew it was when I pushed the boundaries. It happened so infrequently I don’t think about it and certainly don’t carry any resentment or feel scarred because of it.” Lily adds: “I had a great childhood and know my parents raised me with much love and care and I honestly believe smacking helped me quickly determine between right and wrong.”

I ask if Lily feels smacking would be appropriate were she to one day settle down and have a family. She says: “I imagine the way I was brought up will influence the way I raise my own children.” She offers a withering assessment when I ask also about her perception of Scottish politics: “It is shocking how much politicians appear to push their own moral agenda.” Lily adds: “Their job is to represent those who elected them but it is as if they feel duty-bound to use the law to manipulate people’s behaviour.”

Since 2003, it has been unlawful to discipline a child in a manner that reddens the skin but from next month, if you are a parent who uses any physical discipline, you will be a criminal. Lily says: “This what our politics has turned into – it is just mad.”

Lockdowns Unleash a Pandemic of Poverty

The empirical evidence is clear – lockdowns lead to poverty, which is why we must exert caution over their use.

This article appeared in the print edition of the Evening Telegraph: 19/10/2020

With the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom having implemented some form of lockdown within a week of each other, it could not have been a worse time for the World Health Organisation (WHO) to announce lockdowns lead to “higher levels of suffering and death”. A new study by Edinburgh University also suggests lockdown restrictions can contribute to higher death tolls and argued they are likely to prolong the virus by leaving large numbers susceptible to the virus once restrictions are lifted.

Last week, Scotland re-entered a limited lockdown, Northern Ireland introduced a four-week partial lockdown and the Welsh Government announced it is considering a “circuit-breaker” form of lockdown as the UK Government implemented its new three-tier approach. However, the research conducted by Edinburgh University and published by the British Medical Journal coupled with comments by the Special Envoy on Covid-19 to the World Health Organisation portrays another narrative.

Dr David Nabarro, speaking on behalf of the WHO in an interview with Andrew Neil, said: “We really do have to learn how to co-exist with this virus in a way that doesn’t require constant closing down of economies but, at the same time, in a way that is not associated with high levels of suffering and death.” He added: “We should stop using lockdowns as the primary control method. Lockdowns have one consequence that you must never belittle and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer.”

From 2009, Dr Nabarro spent eight years at the United Nations (UN) as a former Special Representative on Food Security and Nutrition. In that time, he aligned the UN approach on food security, livelihood resilience and sustainable agriculture, set up the Committee on World Food Security and oversaw the UN Secretary General’s Zero Hunger Challenge as well as pioneering and coordinating the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement. His words, therefore, come as a stark and experienced warning.

In another report published only last month, the newly-appointed UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Professor Olivier De Schutter, stated that most developed economies still not fully recovered from the preceding decade of austerity, were “… ill-equipped to deal with the socioeconomic impacts of this pandemic…” He added: “… one-off cash transfers are a drop in the bucket for people living in poverty…” and said a “major change in direction is needed.”

The empirical evidence is clear – lockdowns lead to poverty. It is why I have argued since the outset, and been widely criticised, for suggesting we should exert caution over lockdowns. 15 years of working alongside people experiencing poverty has made plain a grim reality to me, which is many reside on a restricted income and any major macro-economic turbulence, especially that which is preventable, should be avoided at all costs if the preservation of health really is priority number one.

The Invisibility of Male Sexual Violence

“Finlay McFarlane is 27-years-old but his world was turned upside down when he was raped after having his drink spiked.”

This article appeared in the print edition of the Evening Telegraph: 12/10/2020

Finlay McFarlane is 27-years-old but his world was turned upside down when, shortly after his 18th birthday almost a decade ago, he was raped after having had his drink spiked. Sexual violence tends not to be something you associate with males alongside the narrative of the victim. However, as Evening Telegraph reporter Lindsey Hamilton revealed in her recent interview with a man who sought to remain nameless, male sexual violence – extending even to domestic violence – is prolific.

Finlay was born in Carlisle but almost his entire family are Scottish and he spent most of his childhood growing up in North Ayrshire and Inverclyde. One night, while celebrating a friend’s birthday on a night out in Greenock, Finlay says: “A man, perhaps aged in his late twenties or early thirties, approached me and offered to buy a drink and I just remember waking up the next day.” He recalls: “My cousin told me I was found on the ground vomiting in Greenock town centre in the early hours.”

So much of what Finlay experienced that night is a blur which he has spent years trying to reconstruct but he was in no doubt concerning the extent of the physical and psychological violence he experienced that night. He also recalls, with earth-shattering clarity, the moment he encountered the perpetrator around six months later whilst returning home to Greenock on a train from Glasgow. Finlay says: “He got on the train, recognised me and sat across from me and my body just froze.”

Sometime later, a friend of his shared her experience of rape and Finlay broke down. He says: “I did not ever want to acknowledge it was rape or to even go as far as to use that word.” He adds: “I was experiencing poor mental health at the time and was having night terrors. Sadly, this was my first sexual encounter and it affected various relationships. I just did not feel like me anymore.” Conscious he needed help, Finlay approached a charity who responded saying they did not deal with men.

This has changed now but Finlay says more needs to be done: “Firstly, people need to stop focusing on the police. As a survivor, it is hard enough to tell friends and family members without expecting survivors to go to the police.” He adds: “Secondly, men need to start talking to each other about their feelings. A #Me Too moment is needed for survivors of male rape.” Finally, Finlay says: “A separate strategy is required for men and boys around male sexual assault to stimulate a national conversation.”

Finlay’s overriding concern is that men and boys are currently a footnote in strategies that focus solely upon violence against women and girls. He says: “This reinforces the misconception that men cannot be victims of these crimes, which makes it harder to access services and is why a separate strategy is required.”

Students Under House Arrest In Dundee

Students not only bring life to our city but it is also extremely likely your own dentist was educated here.

This article appeared in the print edition of the Evening Telegraph: 05/09/2020

To some, students are tax-dodging, shower-avoiding, noise-making agitators of peace and civility yet Dundee has become an educational magnet and global pioneer in several fields including biomedical science, creative arts, computer games and cyber-security with specific institutions supporting each of these areas. Students not only bring life and vitality to our city but their long-term economic utility is astronomical and there is a high chance even your own dentist or GP was educated here.

Between meetings last week, I walked past and read all the messages emblazoned on windows at the Parker House halls of residence in Dundee city centre where, at that point, there were 74 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 500 students in lockdown. Some conveyed a stoic student-like sense of humour, a few made requests for beer, cider and marijuana but others were more sobering. Messages like: “Let us out” and “Let us go home for Christmas” were visible. Several others simply said: “Help”.

Last week, Dundee University rector Jim Spence wrote: “Universities are meant to liberate minds not imprison bodies.” The Scottish Government discourages students from returning home but more strict advice has already been issued by universities such as Abertay in Dundee, which states: “We will now take a strict ‘Yellow Card / Red Card’ approach to breaches of student discipline that put students and others at risk.” It encourages students to report any inappropriate “Covid-related behaviour”.

Last week, I met with 24-year-old Abertay student Zoe Salmond, who recently moved to Dundee to study Sociology. She said: “I felt I outgrew my hometown of Montrose and wanted to spread my wings and live where I was studying.” However, having taken ownership of and uprooted her life, she now feels her decision-making capacity has been stripped away and is now mapped out in Scottish Government guidance entitled: ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you can and cannot do’.

Zoe, who lives alone in the Hilltown, says: “Morale is very low among students right now.” She adds: “Even our lecturers are frustrated. They have to seek management approval to be on site when they are not delivering a lecture.” Zoe also suffers from bouts of anxiety and adds: “We are moving into winter when it is cold and dark and it will be especially challenging for people, like me, who live alone.” She says: “I have ups and downs. How long can we just be expected to survive alone without support?”

Guidance also prevents students from frequenting pubs, in which a number of them are employed. Zoe, who has not lived with her parents since she was 18, said: “Much of the guidance reads as if it is being communicated to children but there is a mature student on my course who is 65 years old and it says he cannot even take his wife out for a meal.” Students studying Stalinism may see some parallels.

The Other Pandemic We Currently Face

“When exactly do we consider the wider psychological pandemic of lives lost to mental ill health, loneliness, isolation and suicide?”

This article appeared in the print edition of the Evening Telegraph: 28/09/2020 – Article Unavailable Online

In this column four weeks ago, I asked if Dundee was on course for another lockdown but restrictions introduced this week apply to whole country. As I watched the UK Prime Minister and Scotland’s First Minister deliver their national address one after the other last week, I had mixed views. On one hand, in a context of rising infections, I agree we must safeguard those with serious health conditions as well as our senior citizens but, on the other, should we place restrictions on an entire population?

The new measures reignite the debate on lives-versus-livelihoods. Last week, I spoke to a number of Dundee taxi drivers who said 10pm curfews will significantly reduce their earnings, most notably at weekends. One driver told me: “September is one of the most important months for us because it is when the students come back for Fresher’s Week.” Another said his earnings are down 60% per month since February and admitted he submitted an application for, and is now receiving, Universal Credit.

One city centre restaurateur last week stated that the ‘eat out to help out’ scheme had increased footfall but feared new measures would drive down custom all over again rendering the intent “worthless”. A publican, who only took on a new lease weeks before lockdown, said business had been slow since reopening and said the curfew would result in cutting hours from staff already residing on a restricted income and may involve releasing at least one staff member, or potentially more.

In his national address last week, the UK Prime Minister blamed the public for the re-emergence of coronavirus saying there had been “too many breaches, too many opportunities for our invisible enemy to slip through undetected.” It could not, of course, have had anything to do with his own attempts to encourage commuting employees back to their offices by using public transport nor the provision of an eat out scheme intended to stimulate the economy only to shut it all back down again.

However, I suspect the biggest myth of all is the forlorn hope that by installing a set of new measures, we are in fact preserving some precious way of life we will soon recover. By contrast, we are actually taking a hatchet to our already ailing economy, tying a noose around the neck of our national health service and social security system and handing a stick of fiscal dynamite, in the form of a growing national debt, to our children that even my eight-year-old son will not see paid off in his lifetime.

Beyond the travesty of lost livelihoods that will be more fully laid bare in the next month when furlough ends, at what point do we consider the wider psychological pandemic of lives lost to mental ill health, loneliness, isolation and suicide or even the terminally ill friend I spoke to last week whose cancer appointment was postponed? Are these lives any less valuable?

The Valuable Anchor of Social Security

“How we deliver social security speaks fundamentally to who we are especially as we emerge out of a violent pandemic.”

This article appeared in the print edition of the Evening Telegraph: 21/09/2020 [Online] Available:  Ewan Gurr: ‘Social Security Scotland deal will be good for us all’ [Accessed: 2020, Sep 22] 

Last Wednesday, it was revealed that Social Security Scotland had signed a 20 year lease on the waterfront location of site six. Whichever manner in which we citizens of Dundee choose to perceive the structure, there is no doubt this is outstanding news for our city. The economic value of their habitation is estimated at around £100 million and they now have the potential capacity to employ 900 staff in Dundee, many of whom are yet to be recruited, but social security itself also has a moral value.

William Beveridge, the founder of our welfare state, whilst defending his declaration of war on the five great evils and arguing for universal welfare provision against claims of feather-bedding a workshy generation, once said: “Adventure came not from the half-starved, but from those who were well fed enough to feel ambition.” His vision was of a social contract between the state and the citizen that offered both financial support on one hand and also a springboard to employment on the other.

Since then, social security has been enshrined in statute. The right to social security, as alluded to in Article 9 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, requires states to ensure all individuals enjoy basic income security throughout their lives within an adequate framework of participation, transparency and accountability. The first line of the Social Security (Scotland) Act of 2018 states: “social security is an investment in the people of Scotland.

How we deliver social security speaks fundamentally to who we are and this question is particularly prescient as we emerge out of the smoke of a violent pandemic. The new report published by Professor Olivier De Schutter, the current UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, states most developed economies, which had not yet recovered from a preceding decade of austerity, were “… ill-equipped to deal with the socioeconomic impacts of this pandemic…”

Of the four main Scottish cities, Dundee has historically felt like the awkward, left behind and second-class sibling in our nation’s emerging commercial and cultural mosaic. Edinburgh has held the revered status as the country’s capital, Glasgow is the renowned city of culture and the commercial benefits of oil and gas have been an economic anchor to Aberdeen for the best part of five decades. However, even the pragmatic citizens of Dundee know that the fortunes of our city are changing.

Frederick Douglass once said: “It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men.” One of the big developments for Social Security Scotland will be the launch of Scottish Child Payment which, at full roll out, is anticipated to benefit 443,000 children in Scotland and lift around 30,000 out of relative poverty. The Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, Shirley-Anne Somerville, was right when she said: “This is something which Dundee can be really proud of.”

It is and we are.

Is the Scottish Parliament Losing Touch?

“A survey revealed less than half of the SNP councillors support the proposed Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill.”

This article appeared in the print edition of the Evening Telegraph: 14/09/2020 [Online] Available: Ewan Gurr: Is the Scottish Parliament out of touch with public opinion? [Accessed: 2020, Sep 15] 

If you think freedom of speech is an “important right” you are in the majority. A poll, published in the same week the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill was discussed in Holyrood, revealed that 87% share that view. In a testing interview on the BBC Radio Scotland ahead of the debate last Wednesday, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “You can be as controversial or offensive as you want. What you can’t do is be threatening or abusive with the intention of stirring up hatred.”

The Holyrood debate lasted three hours with two SNP MSPs raising concerns. Ruth Maguire, the MSP for Cunninghame South in North Ayrshire, shared concerns raised by “many constituents” in relation to freedom of expression on the basis of their faith. She also agreed with the Humanist Society in Scotland, who are concerned about the “stirring up” clause, which she said could “unintentionally criminalise behaviour that should be protected under the right to free expression.”

Concern was also raised by the SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, Sandra White, who said she received a number of responses from constituents she felt it was her duty to raise. Mrs White also spoke on behalf of women seeking to defend their sex-based rights who have been accused of hate. She said: “My concern is who defines ‘stirring up’?” As a columnist who often receives feedback, some of which could be described as “stirring up” hatred, I find the thought of silencing critics disturbing.

A number of Scotland’s elected councillors appear to agree. A survey published by the Free to Disagree campaign on Sunday found that, of the 176 elected respondents, two out of every three expressed opposition to the bill, eight in 10 say it is “controversial” and seven in 10 believe it “threatens free speech”. Most strikingly, less than half of the SNP councillors said they supported it and an equal number of them said they were either unsure about or completely opposed to the bill.

One of the things I appreciated in the aftermath of devolution was the fact many of those we elected to Holyrood previously had jobs in the real world and understood the needs of, as well as the political temperature among, ordinary people in Scotland. The spokesman for the Free to Disagree campaign, Jamie Gillies, said: “Local councillors have their ear to the ground in a way that MSPs in the Holyrood bubble don’t. Their views on the Hate Crime Bill mirror views across Scotland.”

In the debate last week, Scottish Conservative MSP Liz Smith said: “Part two of the Hate Crime Bill is illiberal, intrusive and deeply flawed.” She added: “If we are to proceed with this bill as it is, we will be making bad law.” Jamie Gillies added: “The only way the Scottish Government can guarantee the preservation of free speech is to scrap the controversial ‘stirring up’ offences altogether.”

It appears the public agree.

Potholes on the Path to Independence

“I voted for Scottish independence in 2014. However, I also felt uneasy about the lack of a coherent economic prospectus.”

This article appeared in the print edition of the Evening Telegraph: 07/09/2020 [Online] Available: Ewan Gurr: ‘There are still potholes on the path to independence’ [Accessed: 2020, Sep 08] 

Genuine question: Is it fair to set out your intent for a second referendum on Scottish independence in the middle of a global pandemic? Last week, during her Programme for Government address, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Before the end of this Parliament, we will publish a draft bill setting out proposed terms and the timing of an independence referendum as well as a proposed question.” Jubilant hollers and rousing applause emanated from the SNP benches on cue.

The appropriateness of the timing, however, has since been widely criticised mainly by the Conservatives. Health Secretary Jeane Freeman conducted an interview last Thursday in which she set out the strategy for the proposed forthcoming referendum. In response, opposition MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston said: “Given the SNP are refusing to start the inquiry into nearly 2,000 lives lost in Scotland’s care homes, this seems extraordinarily insensitive from the Health Secretary.”

Insensitive it may be, and I have a great deal of sympathy for that view, but this is not an uncalculated tactical move. For the first time in history, six back-to-back polls show a sizeable lead for independence. Political commentator Michael Gray said: “Independence is becoming the settled will of the Scottish people, uniting supporters of all parties and none.” During her address last Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon added: “We must treat the Covid challenge not as a break on our ambitions but as an accelerant.”

Whilst current polling may be cause for some nationalist optimism, there are still potholes on the path to independence. It is no secret to regular readers that I voted for independence in 2014. However, I also saw considerable advantages to being part of the union and felt uneasy about the lack of a coherent economic prospectus offered by the Yes campaign. Even Ms Sturgeon’s former Health Secretary, Alex Neil, stated last week that her economic blueprint must be “completely rewritten”.

In January 2014, the former governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, did not rule out the possibility of a currency union between England and Scotland but he was wholly pragmatic about the potential challenges. It always bemused me that no SNP strategist, after the 2014 vote, ever met with Mr Carney to seek his input in plugging the gaps in any new economic plan. Instead, they talked amongst themselves and developed the widely-criticised and since-forgotten Sustainable Growth Commission.

I am inclined to agree that the timing of Ms Sturgeon’s announcement last week was not sensitive but neither was it surprising. The less she talks about independence the more her approval ratings, and sympathy towards the notion, increase. Therefore, it was inevitable it would resurface but, whilst current polls report a surge in support, any future independence campaign hinges upon being realistic with the Scottish people about the currency and economy to avoid a repetition of past failures.

Could Dundee Be The Next Local Lockdown?

“My concern relates to the poor interpretation and application of the WHO recommendations, which is a serious misuse of them.”

This article appeared in the print edition of the Evening Telegraph: 31/08/2020 [Online] Available: https://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/fp/ewan-gurr-school-face-coverings-guidance-sparks-outrage/  [Accessed: 2020, Sep 01] 

New guidance on the use of face masks in secondary schools comes into effect today following the tragic outbreak of Covid-19 amongst staff and pupils at Kingspark Primary School. Dundee took centre stage in national political discourse last week following news that 21 teachers at the school tested positive whilst reports of other positive cases emerged in other schools across the city. Beyond Dundee, there was also an outbreak of 188 cases at the 2 Sisters food processing site in Coupar Angus.

It is clear this virus is still a threat as Scotland registered its first deaths to Covid-19 in over a month. However, the new guidance for secondary pupils issued by the Scottish Government, and predicated upon recent recommendations published by the World Health Organisation (WHO), has sparked outrage. Jo Bisset, who leads the parent group Us for Them Scotland, said: “Forcing children to wear masks when there’s little scientific evidence to support such a move could be hugely damaging.”

The first thing to highlight is that the new guidance released by the World Health Organisation over a week ago stated it was specifically targeted towards areas with higher rates of transmission, which Scotland does not yet have. Additionally, Dr John Lee, the former clinical professor of pathology at Hull York Medical School and NHS Foundation Trust’s Director of Cancer Services, stated: “The science for the resilience of face masks is very weak and based upon low quality descriptive data.”

The second thing to say is Scotland’s First Minister has insisted children aged five and older must adhere to the guidance on school transport in direct contravention of the WHO guidance which clearly indicates children aged five years old and under should not wear face masks under any circumstances. The guidance is also extremely clear in setting out six key tests before children aged six and above must wear face masks, none of which meet the requirements laid out by the WHO.

Finally, whilst there are critics of the efficacy of the data, I am neither a scientist nor a medical professional, so I will reserve judgement but my view is the WHO guidance is very clear. My concern relates to the poor interpretation and application of it by the Scottish Government, which is a serious misuse of the recommendations. In a staggeringly confusing interview on BBC Radio Scotland last Tuesday, Education Secretary John Swinney said the guidance was “not mandatory” but is “obligatory”.

Given that the WHO guidance is intended for higher rates of transmission and taking into account the Scottish Government’s risk aversion, I believe it is inevitable they will be giving due consideration to rolling out a local lockdown in Dundee, like the one in Aberdeen. However, as the GERS figures shining a light on the perilous state of our economy reveal, a local lockdown would be a devastating move for our city.

300,000 Meals for Children in Dundee

“Dundee does indeed face significant economic and social challenges but our city and our people stand together ready to respond.”

This article appeared in the print edition of the Evening Telegraph: 24/08/2020 [Online] Available: https://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/fp/ewan-gurr-dundee-bairns-providing-300000-meals-in-four-years-is-staggering-reminder-of-challenges-facing-our-city/  [Accessed: 2020, Aug 25]

The announcement that local charity Dundee Bairns provided its 300,000th meal in only four years is a staggering reminder of the challenges facing our city. I never know whether to celebrate or commiserate such a figure because, while I am grateful there is a voluntary cushion to ease the effect of poverty in our city, like Dundee Bairns founder David Dorward says, “We simply wish that Dundee children did not need our meals.”

On the positive, the figure also highlights the encouraging air of entrepreneurialism and fighting spirit that resides in Dundee when a proverbial tsunami like a pandemic hits our city. In the press release, the words of furloughed worker Ed Lawson ring true: “We are a city that takes care of our own.” Whilst many retreated from the coalface when our country went in lockdown, people like Ed took up the opportunity to increase their workload and make a difference with the additional gift of free time.

It was not only volunteers who took action during lockdown but bairns themselves. In addition to several high-profile benefactors who support Dundee Bairns, project coordinator Genna Millar applauded the efforts of three eight-year-old girls, who each held fundraisers during lockdown. Catherine Letford did the Kiltwalk, Holly McIntosh cycled 80 miles and Lauren Chesters designed and sold t-shirts. Genna said: “There is something heart-warming about children raising money for children.”

What struck me most about the announcement by Dundee Bairns this week is the vast majority of provision took place during the pandemic. In January, Dundee City Council leader John Alexander told me he had sat in a “heart-wrenching” budget meeting where consideration was given to cuts that could reach up to and beyond £27 million. The question this raises is; what then might the future hold for a city which was undergoing such significant cuts only a few months ago?

I think Dundee is in a strong position to ride the tide of expected hardship. Prior to the pandemic, the value of tourism to our local economy was over £10 million per month and created 370 new real living-wage jobs in Dundee. Once signed, the new Tay Cities Deal will bring £700 million of investment and 6,000 new jobs in Tayside over the next 15 years. And, last week, Hillcrest Homes announced the development of 2,000 more affordable homes in Dundee after securing £50 million investment.

Nationally, the Scottish Government also published its progress on child poverty last Thursday. Whilst some charities called for further action, many welcomed news that the Scottish Child Payment, which will provide £10 per week per child, was still on course to launch this year. At full roll out, Government analysis anticipates 410,000 children will benefit and it will lift around 30,000 out of relative poverty in Scotland, reducing the child poverty rate by three percentage points.

Dundee does indeed face significant challenges but our city and our people stand ready to respond.