Church backed coalition urges Finance Secretary to 'do the right thing' and ease child poverty

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes is under fresh pressure to "do the right thing" and immediately double the Scottish Child Payment to £20 a week this year.

Lord Wallace, Moderator of the General Assembly, has signed an open letter to the MSP ahead of the 2022-23 Scottish budget along with more than 100 charities, faith groups, trade unions and civic organisations.

The signatories say increasing the benefit is "a matter of utmost urgency" to protect hard up families from a "perfect storm of financial uncertainty".

It is currently paid at £10 per week for each child under six in families in receipt of a qualifying benefit such as universal credit.

In September, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she intended to act "as early within the life of this Parliament as possible".

Ms Forbes will set out the Scottish Government's spending plans on the 9th of December and signatories of the letter say the UK Government's universal credit cut, rising energy prices and the wider rise in the cost of living mean that family incomes can't stretch any further.

Eradication

Speaking on the issue in September, Lord Wallace said: "The vision of the early leaders of the Church of Scotland at the time of the Reformation was for a ‘school in every parish' to allow every child the chance to have every opportunity to reach their full potential.

"Our vision today is nothing less than the eradication of child poverty.

"It will require all levels of government – Scottish, UK and local – to work together and use all the powers at their disposal.

"We have the means to help and there has been support expressed across the political spectrum.

"Surely there must now be the will to carry this through?"

 Lord Wallace, Moderator of the General Assembly
Lord Wallace visited The Gate project in Alloa recently.

The signatories said early action is essential if the Scottish Government is to meet its interim statutory child poverty target – to reduce the proportion of children living in poverty to less than 18% by 2023/24.

John Dickie is the director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, a leading member of the End Child Poverty coalition in Scotland which co-ordinated the letter.

He said: "Doubling the Scottish Child Payment is the single most impactful thing the Scottish Government can do right now to protect families and give Scotland a chance to meet our child poverty targets. Families really cannot wait any longer for this financial support."

Adequate standard

Bruce Adamson, Scotland's Children and Young People's Commissioner, added: "Poverty was the biggest human rights issue facing children before the pandemic, now it is worse.

"Children have the right to an adequate standard of living and to benefit from social security.

"The (Scottish) government has a duty to use its resources to the maximum extent possible and that includes doubling the Scottish Child Payment now."