Almost one in every four Scots children is living in poverty – about 230,000 youngsters – and charities are demanding action to stem the rising tide.
The End Child Poverty coalition of anti-poverty groups, children’s charities and women’s organisations want all political parties to commit to at least doubling the value of the new Scottish Child Payment.
It’s a new £10 per week per child benefit for families on low incomes. Its roll-out, for parents of children under the age of six, begins next month.
It will be available for children over six by the end of 2022.
End Child Poverty make the call in A Manifesto for Ending Child Poverty, which launches tomorrow. It sets out key demands ahead of the Holyrood elections in May.
The manifesto says: “We believe all children should be safe, warm, fed and able to play and learn during this crisis and beyond. Yet not all families have an adequate income to meet these needs.
“Poverty is about a lack of money and living on a low income.
"In effect, it excludes children from the everyday activities and opportunities their better-off peers enjoy.”
While welcoming the new benefit, the coalition says by increasing the payment to £20 per week at least another 20,000 children could be lifted out of poverty.
The coalition want parties to commit to:
●Bolstering other support for low-income families, including increasing the value of School Clothing Grants and Best Start Grants.
● Ensuring crisis support is adequate and accessible, including investing in the Scottish Welfare Fund.
●Guaranteeing holistic whole family support to all families needing help.
●Supporting migrant children and caregivers, including increasing financial support to families with no recourse to public funds.
●Setting out a child poverty-focused labour market policy, including action to tackle the gender pay gap.
John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said:
“A rising tide of child poverty now threatens to overwhelm many in our communities.
“We urge all political parties to commit to the action we’ve set out and to use the next Scottish
Parliament to loosen the grip of poverty on the lives of Scotland’s children.”
A Scottish Conservative spokesman said the party was “committed” to eradicating child poverty and backed the Child Poverty Bill and Scottish Child Payment.
He said they would “consider” the coalition’s proposals.
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “The Scottish Child Payment will not reach everyone who needs it and is predicted to only reduce child poverty by three per cent.
"Our social security system is still full of holes, which is why the Greens support the idea of a Universal Basic Income.”
Lib Dem MSP Rosemary Bruce said: “The best way to lift people out of poverty and reduce inequality is through investing in their talents and wellbeing, from education to mental health.
“We have also argued the principles of universal basic income can help everyone through this crisis.”