TACKLING the Tory cost-of-living crisis involves taking matters into our own hands, whenever and however we can.

This week I was delighted to see the SNP Scottish Government do just that by doubling the Child Payment, a move which will benefit those families who need it most.

Using Scotland’s limited social security powers, we are making sure that tens of thousands of children here in Glasgow have the best start in the most difficult of circumstances. By the end of this year as many as 400,000 children across Scotland will receive £25-per-week.

Families in our most vulnerable communities, those already hardest hit financially, have struggled under years of Westminster austerity. It’s hard to believe that while we are still in the midst of the pandemic the Tory Chancellor decides now is a good time to cut the £20 Universal Credit uplift, plunging many thousands of Glasgow families further into hardship.

Rishi Sunak controls an annual budget of hundreds of billions of pounds. He has the powers to borrow much, much more. But instead, his approach to the cost-of-living crisis and recovery from the pandemic is forcing ordinary people into further debt.

We’re now seeing more and more individuals and families with members who are in full-time employment being thrust into extreme poverty. I heard one charity worker at the weekend describe it as a crisis of survival. That is as grim as it is apt for increasing numbers of Glaswegians.

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In Scotland, we spend hundreds of millions annually mitigating the Tory attacks on those who experience financial hardship. As well as increasing the Scottish Child Payment to £25-per-week, by the end of this year Scotland’s package of family benefits for low-income families will be worth £10,000 by the time a first child turns six, compared to £1800 in England and Wales. This is part of the SNP’s mission to tackle child poverty and build a fairer and more equal Scotland.

Here in Glasgow, we’re doing our bit too, by helping address both the immediate impacts of the current crisis and investing in the longer-term blocks to build a fairer and more equal Glasgow. As I have said in this column previously, Glasgow’s Tories and Labour both totally ignored the cost-of-living crisis in their recent city budget proposals, while the SNP put millions into protecting low-income households.

And as well as increasing free school meal entitlement and introducing the holiday food programme, the SNP city government has put tackling poverty at the heart of our agenda throughout our first ever council administration in Glasgow. This has included delivering more free hours of quality and accessible childcare quicker than anywhere else in Scotland, promoting digital skills and readying citizens for the world of work, and ensuring as many employers as possible pay the Glasgow living wage and are committed to fair work practices. Unlike some others who like to talk about social justice and addressing poverty, the SNP actually delivers.

Glasgow’s economic success in recent decades has been in no small part down to our creative industries. They have helped build our international reputation as a vibrant and culturally rich city while contributing hundreds of millions of pounds annually to Glasgow’s economy. The television and film sectors have been a crucial part of that.

Over the past five years, the SNP city government has been committed to helping to grow that contribution. Back in our first year we led a compelling and successful bid for a new Channel 4 base. This was a considerable win for the city. Channel 4 had spent more than £200 million on Scotland-based productions since 2007, supporting 400 high-value jobs.

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A significant proportion of this was in Glasgow. Slowed down somewhat by the pandemic, the decision by the broadcaster to base its biggest creative team here in Glasgow has nonetheless promised further growth and greater opportunities for our already flourishing independent producers. The new studio space at Kelvin Hall put in place the other missing jigsaw piece.

The decision by the Tory government to go ahead with the sale of Channel 4 seriously risks unravelling much of that progress. Along with leading figures in the sector, I recently wrote to several UK ministers to point out just how self-defeating and short-sighted any sale would be. Not just in terms of the damage it would inflict on one of our cultural and economic success stories but also to their own stated agendas.

Channel 4’s decision to move whole departments out of London is levelling up in action, spreading the benefits of an internationally regarded broadcaster across the UK. Despite all the UK Government’s “levelling up” rhetoric, this move does the exact opposite. PACT, the organisation representing many of the UK’s film and television producers, has found that the independent sector is at risk of losing £3.7 billion because of privatisation.

And the Exchequer will over the longer term lose hundreds of millions of tax income generated year in, year out by those independent producers and their employees, contractors, suppliers. I suspect many in the UK Government know this. Channel 4 doesn’t cost the public any money, it nurtures new talent, it produces remarkable investigative journalism, so why put it up for sale? And why put Nadine Dorries, a minister who didn’t even have a clue how Channel 4 operates, in charge of the matter?

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I suspect the Tory MP Julian Knight probably isn’t far off the mark with his comments about revenge against Channel 4 for its coverage of Brexit and its relentlessness in holding the UK Government, and particularly Boris Johnson, to account. Boris’s government doesn’t like accountability, they see Channel 4 as a bit too “leftie”, public service broadcasting is the opposite to what they stand for, and they can get their own back.

Once in private hands, it’s difficult to see a scenario where Channel 4’s new owners don’t prioritise shareholder returns over broader public service goals or the importance of the creative economy.

This is a grubby self-serving decision taken in the interests of those opposed to diversity and challenge, not the viewing public.