Swinney calls for action on child poverty in first phone call with PM

John Swinney told the Prime Minister the UK Government needs to change direction in key areas, as he spoke to Rishi Sunak for the first time since becoming First Minister of Scotland.

Mr Swinney promised to “work constructively” with the UK Government and “reduce polarisation in politics”, during the call on Wednesday.

He pledged to eradicate child poverty and urged Mr Sunak to reconsider the two-child benefit cap, telling the Conservative leader it is “causing misery for many families”.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The First Minister spoke with the Prime Minister this afternoon and confirmed that the Scottish Government stands ready to work constructively with the UK Government in a good-faith effort to deliver for the people of Scotland and reduce polarisation in politics.

John Swinney
Newly appointed First Minister of Scotland John Swinney and deputy Kate Forbes outside Bute House, Edinburgh (Jane Barlow/PA)

“The First Minister set out his determination to eradicate child poverty and urged the UK Government to work with him towards that goal by changing course on policies such as the two-child benefit cap which are causing misery for many families in Scotland.

“Mr Swinney set out the need for a change in the UK Government’s economic policy and an end to austerity, in order to allow the Scottish economy to reach its full potential, support business, tackle the cost-of-living crisis and to allow for further investment to improve vital public services like the NHS and schools.

“The First Minister made clear that the Scottish Government will continue to respectfully persuade people in Scotland of the case for independence, and that the decision on Scotland’s future should be for the people of Scotland to make.”

It is understood the Prime Minister highlighted areas where there had been successful co-operation including freeports and creating a smoke-free generation.

They also discussed the importance of working together on shared priorities and delivering for the people of Scotland.