Ahead of the UK General Election on Thursday 11 December, Staf called for further action to tackle care leaver poverty. You can read our General Election Briefing here and find out how the parties responded in their manifestos here

We also asked each of the main parties to send a statement from a senior representative answering the question: 

What action will your MPs take to ensure that no care leaver in Scotland lives in poverty?

Below is the response from the Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Labour, Scottish Liberal Democrats and SNP. The Scottish Greens were also asked for a contribution. 

Jackson Carlaw MSP, Leader of the Scottish Conservatives

“The transition out of care is a very important time for young adults – that is why it is vital that we get it right.

“The UK Conservatives have a implemented a range of policies to help those on lower incomes. These range from rises in the personal allowance, the level from which you contribute National Insurance, the living wage and the level of benefit payments.

“The Scottish Conservatives have championed causes that support individuals to be pulled out of poverty, these include enshrining housing rights into law, committing to a skills revolution in our young people and investing in local government so that they are properly funded to support those in their communities – including those in care.

“The SNP have a raft of powers at their fingertips that can make a real life difference to those leaving care. They have the means to make our education system better, our local authorities further equipped, our housing more affordable – it is time they get on with the things that matter and that will positively enable care leavers to fulfil their potential.

“Living in care should not increase your chance of ending up in poverty. We need to equip children living in care so that they can fulfil their potential as they enter their adult lives.”

Ian Blackford, SNP Leader at Westminster

“The SNP are committed to tackling care leaver poverty. In our manifesto, we call on the UK Government to take action by reforming social security and raising incomes.

“Over the past six years, the roll-out of Universal Credit has pushed people into poverty, debt, and crisis. The SNP has been vocal about the many issues with this shambolic system from the in-built minimum five-week delay in receiving the first payment to the abolition of the child element, and changes in the work allowance. The efforts of our MPs have secured an increase in the work allowance worth an additional £630 a year for working people, reduced the waiting time for Universal Credit payments and secured vital additional funding for the transition to Universal Credit worth £1 billion.

“The SNP Scottish Government has done what it can by mitigating the Bedroom Tax, boosting Carer’s Allowance and establishing the new Best Start Grants. And while we have very limited powers to support people in how they are paid Universal Credit - meaning that people can opt to be paid twice monthly and for their rent to be paid direct to landlords - the Scottish Government does not have the power to fix the damage being inflicted by a five-week delay in receiving payments.

“SNP MPs will demand an end to policies which are pushing people into poverty, debt and desperation. We will call for a halt to Universal Credit, an end to the punitive benefit sanctions regime and an end the two-child cap on tax credits and associated rape clause. We will also press for an immediate end to the benefit freeze and for uplifts in the value of income replacement benefits of at least inflation.

“SNP MPs will further call for care leavers to be exempt from the Shared Accommodation Rate for Housing Benefit to support them to secure and maintain their own tenancy and demand further support to care-experienced people from the UK Government.

“We will also demand powers over employment law to be devolved to allow us to make radical changes to our society to eradicate poverty. However, in the meantime, SNP MPs will push for the statutory living wage to rise to at least the level of the real living wage and for an end to age discrimination to allow for a levelling up of the incomes of care leavers.”

Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP, Scottish Liberal Democrats General Election Chair

“Care leavers’ particular vulnerabilities need to be recognised, and extra support has to be provided so we avoid cliff edges, especially in the first few years.

“We supported extending the care leaving age to 21, and support the right of recent leavers to return to care settings if they leave and experience difficulty.

“We know that care experienced young people have poorer mental health than their peers, and the link it has with poverty. Liberal Democrats will radically invest in mental health services, treating it with the same urgency as physical health. Nobody should have to wait two years for treatment. That turns problems into crises. We will expand the workforce and create new services, operating 24 hours, 7 days a week.

“Unemployment and homelessness are also statistically higher for care leavers. We will reform the welfare system so the right safety nets are in place, reducing the wait for first payment from five weeks to five days. We will also replace the cruel and broken sanction system with an incentive based scheme.

“We want to see authorities taking their responsibilities as corporate parents seriously, monitoring and accounting for the outcomes of those leaving care, and recording ACEs as Sir Harry Burns recommended.”


Iain Gray MSP, Scottish Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education, Skills and Science

“No care leaver should live in poverty.

“Labour will scrap Universal Credit, improving the lives of many, including care leavers. We will immediately stop moving people onto it and design an alternative system that treats people with dignity and respect. Our ambition in designing this system will be to end poverty by guaranteeing a minimum standard of living. But we will also implement an emergency package of reforms to mitigate some of the worst features of Universal Credit while we develop our replacement system. We will end the five week wait by introducing an interim payment based on half an estimated monthly entitlement, and ultimately ensure that employment support is positive not punitive.

“Labour will also stop housing costs running away from benefits by increasing the Local Housing Allowance and ensure a decent wage for all, by bringing in a Real Living Wage of at least £10 per hour – including for those aged 16 and 17.

“For those still in care, Scottish Labour will continue to use parliamentary process to hold the government to account regarding local authority funding. While we await the outcomes of the Independent Care Review, it is essential that councils have sufficient resources to provide the loving and supportive environments that looked after young people need to thrive.”