Plea for urgent action on child poverty in Programme for Government
Child poverty rates are “set to rocket” without an urgent cash boost for low-income families, Scotland’s Poverty and Inequality Commission and Children’s Commissioner have said.
The two commissions have joined together to call for the Scottish Government to look at including financial support for low-income families in next week’s Programme for Government (PfG).
Twenty-four per cent of children in Scotland are living in poverty, and due to the COVID-19 pandemic they said: “That grip on poverty has only tightened.”
The £10 per week Scottish Child Payment has been delayed by the pandemic and will not be rolled out in February 2021 – six months from now.
The commissions are calling for “more urgent financial support – providing the equivalent of £10 per week per child and delivered through mechanism that are already in place” to be included in the PfG “as a priority”.
“The impact of the pandemic has not been borne equally. Women have been hardest hit and, with women’s poverty being inextricably linked to child poverty, we are living amid a rising tide of hardship,” chair of the Poverty and Inequality Commission Bill Scott said.
“The Scottish Government has demonstrated its genuine commitment to tackling child poverty with the planned introduction of the Scottish Child Payment, which will make a huge difference to those children’s chances of thriving. But it will be six months before the first Scottish Child Payments are made.
“The tens of thousands of families across Scotland who are teetering on the edge of being unable to put food in their children’s mouths or to prevent them shivering through the winter cannot wait six months.
“That’s why I am calling on the Scottish Government to use the existing powers it has to urgently put money into the pockets of families and loosen the grip of poverty on their lives. If we want to make sure that every child has every chance, that is the action that is needed now.”
Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, Bruce Adamson, said: “Even before COVID-19, poverty represented the greatest human rights issue facing children in Scotland, with one in four growing up in its grip.
“Five months into the pandemic - with many parents and caregivers seeing their incomes cut and finding it even more difficult to get by – that grip of poverty has only tightened.
“The Scottish Government has the opportunity to pull families back from the brink. We urge the government to take that opportunity; action is needed now.”