ONE of Donald Dewar’s earliest acts as Scotland’s first First Minister was to publish a social justice strategy setting out a vision of a more socially just and equal Scotland.

That document committed his administration, and those of us who served in it, to the task of breaking the cycle of deprivation, disadvantage and poverty that holds back so many of Scotland’s people and communities.

Twenty years on from the launch of that strategy, and 12 years after the SNP came to power, an Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland report forecasts a further 80,000 children face being pushed into poverty in Scotland by 2021. A separate Resolution Foundation thinktank report states that child poverty is set to hit its highest level in 20 years, with almost one in three children in Scotland living in poverty by 2023.

This is dreadful news, a rollback of the significant progress made on reducing child poverty during the years when Labour was in government at Westminster and Holyrood. Now both of our Governments are failing to address poverty.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has called on Nicola Sturgeon to accelerate plans to tackle child poverty, including bringing forward plans for an income supplement currently set for 2022, and increasing child benefit by £5 per week.

Meanwhile, over 600,000 households in Scotland still live in fuel poverty, a quarter of the population. Labour will table amendments this week to the Government’s Fuel Poverty Bill to set a target to eliminate fuel poverty in Scotland by 2032. The current government target is to reduce it to no more than five per cent by 2040.

Ambitious measures such as these can help the Parliament rediscover its purpose as a powerful focus for tackling poverty and inequality and improving the lives of everyone in Scotland.