Constance tells MSPs: I will strive for social justice

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​Minister for third sector says she wants to shape a better future where everyone has an equal chance to reach their full potential

3rd June 2016 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Scotland’s new third sector minister has spoken of her commitment to social justice – and her determination to win equality for all.

Angela Constance, the new cabinet secretary for communities, social security and equalities, told parliament in her maiden speech she wanted to “shape a better future where everyone has an equal chance to reach their full potential irrespective of their background.”

And Constance revealed her own working-class background, where she was raised by her divorced father, made her aware of the challenges families faced in terms of income, housing and education.

The former education secretary takes on the new role, replacing Alex Neil MSP who was formerly cabinet secretary for social justice, communities and pensioners' rights.

As well as being responsible for the third sector, Constance’s role will see her tasked with overseeing the implementation of new welfare powers being devolved to Scotland.

She will also cover community empowerment, human rights, housing, social security, poverty and disabilities among others in the title's wide ranging portfolio.

Constance told parliament: “I want to shape a better future where everyone has an equal chance to reach their full potential irrespective of their background. And I know from personal experience how important that fair chance is.”

Two key focuses will be housing and child poverty, she told MSPs. 

I want to shape a better future where everyone has an equal chance to reach their full potential

She said housing was an integral part of how families integrate and bond and said the SNP was committed to building new homes – 50,000 over the next five years.

And Constance said that if child poverty was tackled the benefits would reach far and wide.

“Free school meals and school clothing grants were a lifeline to me and my family,” she told parliament.

“I am proud of the stance the Scottish Government has taken in introducing free school meals for all children in p1-p3 and my role in protecting school clothing grants for any family who needs them."

She added: “Children need to know we value them and their families. Inefficient and inhuman bureaucracies create barriers to people getting the right support at the right time.

“I will be the strongest voice, sticking up for all those who find themselves victimised, stigmatised or left high and dry by the UK Government's draconian welfare cuts."

Her appointment was welcomed by the umbrella body for voluntary groups in Scotland, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO).

Its chief executive, Martin Sime, said: “SCVO congratulates Angela Constance on her new cabinet secretary position.

“This post, covering as it does some of Scotland’s new powers as well as the third sector and many social justice issues, will be an interesting and wide-reaching brief.

“Scotland’s third sector looks forward to working with Angela in the coming months and years to ensure a fairer Scotland for everyone.”