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by Kirsteen Paterson
14 November 2022
Rest of UK should follow 'watershed' Scottish Child Payment move, charity says

Children at play in Leven, Fife

Rest of UK should follow 'watershed' Scottish Child Payment move, charity says

Governments and devolved administrations across the UK should "learn from the Scottish experience and apply political will and funding to tackle child poverty", a charity claims.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) says 5.3m children in England, Wales and Northern Ireland would be eligible for extra help during the cost-of-living crisis if leaders follow the Scottish Government's payment lead.

Brought in for youngsters under the age of six in 2021, the benefit is today being extended to all eligible under-16s. Worth £25 per week for each child in a family, it adds up to £1,300 a year and, unlike Universal Credit, there is no limit on the number of children per household who can receive the cash.

Chris Birt, the charity's associate director for Scotland, described the full rollout of the benefit as "a watershed moment for tackling poverty in Scotland", saying: "The rest of the UK should take notice."

Birt said: "No child should live in poverty so there is clearly more to do, but the Scottish Government should be commended for prioritising spend on this vital measure at this time. But this is not just a cost-of-living crisis measure, it is an enduring investment in our children."

He went on: "A country as wealthy as the UK can do much, much, better and the Scottish Government’s action shows the UK Chancellor that prioritising those on low incomes is possible. It also shows the other devolved administrations that constraints on powers and financial flexibility are no barrier to compassionate and significant action to support families."

One mother, named only as Laura, told how she will receive £25 per week for her 10 and 14-year-olds and will "be able to put extra gas in the meter for heating and hot water" and buy more food.

She said: "My kids, especially my two teenage boys, won't be feeling hungry as often and I'll be able to make the house warm for them coming in from school which is a really great feeling. I feel so helpless and feel like a failure when they're hungry or cold and now I'll be able to give them what they need a bit more often. It's a huge relief and takes away some anxiety and stress."

Families should apply for Scottish Child Payment if they receive low income benefits such as Universal Credit or tax credits, live in Scotland and have responsibility for children under the age of 16.

One Parent Families Scotland also called on the UK Government to adopt similar measures. Its chief executive Satwat Rehman said: "With rising costs and falling temperatures, this winter will be particularly challenging for families on a low income.

"The increase in financial support via the new Scottish Child Payment and its availability to parents and carers of older children will provide a much-needed lifeline to families on a low income.

"We hope the UK Government will follow suit and provide further support to low-income families in its upcoming autumn budget on Thursday."

And John Dickie, director of Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, said: "If the Scottish Government can make this kind of serious investment in protecting our children from poverty then so too can the UK Government."

 

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