Cross-party committee calls on Scottish Government to tackle poverty
A cross-party committee of MSPs is calling on the Scottish Government to use its budget to stabilise the income of parents and help reach its child poverty targets.
According to a letter issued by the Scottish Parliament's Social Justice and Social Security Committee, stabilising parental income would help families who are facing reductions in household incomes due to price rises and the withdrawal of the UK Government’s £20 Universal Credit uplift.
The committee's letter to Shona Robison MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, highlights three means of achieving this: doubling the Scottish Child Payment as soon as possible; improving access to childcare; and providing further employment support.
Speaking as the letter was released, the committee's convener, SNP MSP Neil Gray, said: "The importance of helping parents with their finances was a key theme of the evidence the committee heard.
"While there has been a massive expansion in free childcare provision by the Scottish Government we want to see further expansion prioritised in this budget.
“We are particularly aware that women and people with disabilities face challenges finding good employment opportunities and suitable childcare.
"We are pleased that the Scottish Government has stated that it would like to address some of these issues.
“However, given the urgency for some families with the withdrawal of the universal credit uplift, we would like them to outline their plans in detail in this year's budget."
Organisations which gave evidence to the committee explained that doubling the Scottish Child Payment would play a critical role in helping the Scottish Government work towards its child poverty targets.
Improving childcare support to help support people getting into work is also highlighted in the committee's letter.
While giving evidence, One Parent Family Scotland relayed a quote from a parent which summarised the difficulties working parents face: “Childcare costs are crippling — I earn what I always considered to be a reasonable salary, but it costs more than I earn to send my two children to nursery for only 3 days a week."
The committee also raised concerns around the sustainability of anti-poverty measures and social security budget in the long-term.
In the letter, the committee calls on government departments to work together to reduce the potential long-term demands on the social security budget.