Scottish Government has just two years to lift 80,000 kids out of poverty
The Scottish Government has just two years to lift 80,000 kids out of poverty if it’s to avoid missing crucial child poverty targets.
The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 requires Scottish ministers to ensure less than 18% of children are living in poverty by 2023/24 and less than 10 per cent of children are living in poverty by 2030.
But recent statistics suggest that around 26% of children, around 260,000 are living in poverty in 2019/20.
Charities have urged the government to move quicker in their plans to double the value of the Scottish Child Payment from £10 to £20 a week.
Currently, the SNP administration has promised the change by the end of this Parliamentary term.
Claire Telfer, from Save the Children, said it needs to be done this year: “We urge the Scottish Government to take strong, bold action now to reverse the trend we’re seeing of increased child poverty in Scotland. It is simply unacceptable that one in four children in our wealthy, prosperous country are growing up experiencing poverty which will impact on them now and well into the future.
“It must be a national priority to tackle child poverty head-on and turn lives around for those who have been hardest hit.
"As a first action, we must see the Scottish Child Payment doubled within a year”.
John Dickie, from the Child Poverty Action Group, said: “By 2023 around 80,000 children need to be lifted out of poverty to meet the interim target. To achieve this the immediate priority must be to increase the Scottish child payment. If we are serious about protecting our children and meeting our targets it must be doubled to £20 per week in the first year of this parliament as the first step.
“Adequate social security for hard-up families is the foundation on which wider action to improve income from employment, improve access to childcare and ensure housing is genuinely affordable can be built.”
The calls came as the Scottish Government published their Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan third-year progress report.
Social Justice minister Shona Robison said the government had allocated nearly a billion pounds to help low-income families with children in the last year. She agreed that further action was needed.
The minister said: “Direct support to families with children rose to more than £978m in 2020-21 – including £118m in response to COVID-19.
“This was part of almost £2.5bn invested to support low income households, including more than £434m of COVID-related investment in social assistance.
“The report also shows that all 66 of the actions we have previously reported on are either in progress or being delivered.
“We have made considerable progress over the first three years of this plan, but further action is needed.
“We must continue to deliver at the pace and scale with which we responded to the pandemic.
“We must work across government and with wider society to bring forward the game-changing policies needed to deliver on our ambition to eradicate child poverty.”
Robison added: “We have always been clear that delivering upon the child poverty targets will be incredibly challenging, especially given the limited powers available to this Parliament.
“The COVID pandemic will make reducing poverty that much harder. However, we are serious about ending child poverty in Scotland and have committed a wide range of actions to do just that.”