Call for child payment to quadruple as commission warns of rising poverty levels
Ministers will need to quadruple the child payment to avoid missing poverty targets, the Scottish Government’s own advisers have warned.
The Poverty and Inequality Commission said the action taken by the SNP-Green administration was “not on a scale or at a pace that is sufficient to meet the interim or final child poverty targets,” and, they warned that “child poverty levels have been at best stagnating, and may be starting to rise”.
MSPs backed tough targets in 2017 which committed the government to reduce the proportion of children living in relative poverty to 18 per cent by 2023-24 and 10 per cent by 2030-31.
Current levels of relative poverty, where a child lives in a household which has less than 60 per cent of the median household income, rose to 24 per cent in 2017-20.
The First Minister has already promised to double the devolved Scottish Child Payment from £10 per week to £20. However, the commission says that it will need to go up to £40.
Chairman, Bill Scott, said: “Our advice shows that, quite simply, too many children are still experiencing poverty in Scotland.
“As a society we believe it’s wrong for children’s lives to be restricted by poverty. That’s why the child poverty targets were set.
“While we know work is ongoing, progress is not enough to meet the targets, and for some measures the position is worsening. Despite a clear commitment, the action taken by the Scottish Government so far is inadequate.”
The commission called on ministers to use “all the levers available to end the scourge of child poverty”.
Scott added: “Targets to reduce child poverty can be met, however, the Scottish Government will have to utilise every opportunity and deliver action faster, coupled with a significant increase in funding.”
“We need to see action across all areas of Government in order to release families from the constraints of poverty. Providing parents with support to apply for a job, for example, won’t have the impact we want if the parent can’t get suitable childcare or doesn’t have a reliable bus service to get them to work.”
Social Justice Secretary, Shona Robison, said: “We will double the Scottish Child Payment to £20 per week from April and will invest £361 million above the level of funding from UK Government on social security in 2022-23.
“The delivery plan will also set out other levers we will use and actions to take – for example, on employment, maximising incomes and affordable housing, which all contribute to reducing child poverty.
“However, we cannot do it alone – we must work together across society to deliver on this national mission.”