Labour MSP Katy Clark has said the Scottish Government must double the Scottish Child Payment immediately to offset the impact of devastating welfare cuts.
She said doubling the £10 a week payment immediately was critical, with the “triple whammy” of a cut to the uplift of Universal Credit, fuel bill hikes and an end to the furlough scheme all coming into an effect next month.
Scottish Labour is calling for the Scottish Child Payment to be doubled immediately and then doubled once more next year in order to meet child poverty targets.
The SNP pledged to double the payment in their 2021 election manifesto. However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon refused to commit to a date to implement this in her Programme for Government, that it would be introduced “sooner rather than later”.
In 2017, Holyrood agreed the Child Poverty Act, which mandates that by 2023/24 fewer than 18% of children should be in relative poverty, and by 2030/31 it should be fewer than 10%.
Despite this commitment, one in four children are in poverty in total in Scotland – 26% in total.
Clark said: “The one in four children who live in poverty in Scotland cannot wait for ‘sooner rather than later’. This government has a moral and legal duty to support children out of poverty.
“Next month, low income families face a triple whammy as the furlough scheme ends, the universal credit uplift is scrapped and Ofgem’s energy price cap has its largest ever increase.
“In West Scotland, we already have high levels of deprivation and some of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Thousands more families in West Scotland are likely to fall below the poverty line as a result of these measures.
“The Scottish Government must do everything it can to mitigate these cuts – including doubling the Scottish Child Payment as a matter of urgency.”
At the end of September:
• The furlough scheme will end. The Office for Budget Responsibility anticipate a rise in unemployment as a result
• The £20 uplift to universal credit will be scrapped. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation calculates that this will be “the largest single cut to the basic rate of social security since the Second World War” and push half a million more people into poverty
• Regulator Ofgem’s price cap will rise by £139 from £1,138 to £1,277. This is a 12.2% jump, the largest ever increase to fuel bills. Modelling by the End Fuel Poverty Coalition suggest an extra 488,000 homes will experience fuel poverty
The Scottish government has pledged to double the child payment over the course of this parliament. However, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has said that “the impact of that doubling will… be negated for most families if Universal Credit is cut by the UK Government”.
Scottish Labour are calling for the payment to be quadrupled over the course of two years. Analysis shows that a £40 per week Scottish Child Payment would lead to child poverty reduction targets being met with to up to 80,000 children being lifted out of poverty – slashing child poverty by nearly a third.