IT was an honour to be asked to serve as Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government and I look forward to playing my part in building a fairer Scotland and breaking down the barriers that cause poverty and inequality.

Part of this will be to continue the good work delivered by former Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, Angela Constance, who was passionate and committed to her role.

These will be big shoes to fill and I am excited to be in a position where I can continue to help bring fairness to people across the country.

As Public Health Minister I was acutely aware that health inequalities persist in Scotland. Reducing the gap between those in our most and least deprived areas and tackling poverty is a significant challenge, but one I will work hard to rise to in my new role.

As a government we are already pursuing a number of policies to tackle poverty and inequality across society. We are strongly committed to the real Living Wage, with 82% of people in Scotland now paid at least that level, and we are working to lift at least 25,000 more onto the Living Wage. We are on track to deliver 50,000 more affordable homes in this parliament, and expect to invest over £125 million in 2018-19 to offset the damage of UK Government welfare cuts.

We also provide universal services to the people of Scotland, including no tuition fees, free prescriptions and the baby box.

And we have committed to massive investment in key areas such as early learning and childcare, in order to almost double free provision to 1,140 hours by August 2020, and tackling the poverty-related attainment gap.

I am proud Scotland has set statutory targets to reduce child poverty – the only part of the UK to do so – and look forward to taking forward all the actions in Every Child, Every Chance: our Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan which was published earlier this year. The first report on our progress will be published by June 2019.

This is an area where we can make a real difference to families throughout Scotland, building on the solid foundations we have laid to date, with actions such as developing a new income supplement, a new £12m employment support fund and a new minimum level for the School Clothing Grant.

Under UK Government cuts, money is being taken from the pockets of low-income families, pushing them into crisis, debt, and poverty, with our public services and emergency aid responding as best they can. Further UK Government cuts will continue to hurt families, children, and even entire communities – instead, we want to invest in everyone’s future.

That is why we are taking action to increase household incomes and reduce costs, supporting children and families here and now. And we will tackle the longer-term impacts of poverty, and improve life chances – ensuring that children living in poverty now never have to be parents of children in poverty.

We know that this is not an issue that can be solved by one policy or portfolio – this plan is being taken forward right across government and I am excited about meeting with our key partners in the months ahead, to talk about how we can build on the great work we’ve already started.

There is no doubt it will be a challenge, but tackling poverty and overcoming social injustices are two of the reasons I came into politics and I am passionate about fighting these with and for the people of Scotland.

Aileen Campbell is Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government