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Church leaders back campaign for child benefit increase

This news post is almost 7 years old

The Give Me Five Campaign is aimed at securing a £5 a week rise for families in Scotland

Church leaders have backed a third sector campaign which wants child benefit increased.

The Child Poverty Action Group is calling for a £5 weekly top-up to be added to child benefit in Scotland, which it says could result in helping lift up to 30,000 children out of poverty.

The coalition, which includes the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland, the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Women’s Convention and Wheatley housing group, is holding an official launch this week for the Give Me Five Campaign.

The call is being supported by the Catholic Church and the Church of Scotland. Bishop William Nolan, of the Catholic Church’s justice and peace commission, said: "For a growing number of children, this is not the Scotland of equality, fairness and opportunity that our politicians tell us they wish to achieve.

"I would urge politicians of all parties to support this initiative and act now to reduce the number of our children for whom poverty is destroying their childhood and stifling their future."

Right Rev Dr Derek Browning, moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, also backed the call. He said: “The Church of Scotland stands alongside people of all faith traditions, and none, in the move towards fairness for all our children.”

Campaigners say that unless decisive action is taken, child poverty in Scotland will get much worse, with modelling from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) forecasting a 50% increase in child poverty across the UK by 2020.

John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said: “As a coalition of third sector, civic society and faith groups, the Give Me Five campaign is delighted by the growing support for an increase in child benefit.

“Academic analysis has shown that increasing child benefit by £5 per week per child would help lift 30,000 children out of poverty. That’s why we are calling on MSPs to ensure the 2018/19 budget includes a commitment to use new powers to top up child benefit.”

Child benefit is set at UK level and is currently £20.70 a week for a family’s first child and £13.70 for additional children.

It is available to every family with dependent children where neither parent earns more than £50,000 a year.