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Covid crisis: civic Scotland unites in call for emergency child benefit rise

 

UK chancellor challenged to increase child benefit by £10 a week per child to help families through the Covid-19 crisis

In a mass show of strength, unity and solidarity, a huge coalition of civil society groups is demanding an emergency rise in child benefit.

More than forty of Scotland’s leading children’s charities, faith groups, trade unions, community and anti-poverty activists have joined civic organisations from across the UK to call on the chancellor to increase child benefit by £10 a week per child to help families through the Covid-19 crisis.

The signatories – including Child Poverty Action Group, Aberlour, the Scottish Trades Union Congress, Church of Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, Citizens Advice Scotland and the Poverty Alliance - welcome the steps taken so far to support household incomes during the pandemic, but say low-income families need more help with meeting children’s needs and unexpected costs while schools are closed.

In a statement, the coalition said: “We are calling for emergency support for children to ensure all parents can cover the basic costs of raising their children in the face of reduced income and before the new income protection measures can take effect.

“As child benefit reaches most families (12.7 million children receive it ) it offers an effective, fast and resilient way to get money to families through our existing infrastructure - families will get the help they need directly into their bank accounts to cover additional costs.”

Because since 2011 child benefit has been subject to freezes and sub-inflationary uprating, more than half the suggested £10 increase would simply restore its value to 2010.

A £10 child benefit uplift would reduce child poverty by around five percentage points. That’s a bigger reduction than is achieved by the £20 increase in universal credit and working tax credit that the Chancellor has announced.

The benefit cap – which limits the total amount of benefit a household can receive - would need to be lifted to enable all families to gain from the £10 child benefit uplift.

Commenting on the letter, John Dickie, Director of Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said: “The number of organisations behind this letter to the chancellor mean it must not, and cannot, be ignored. Children need to be protected from the impact of coronavirus, and increasing child benefit is the quickest and most effective way of ensuring families have the additional resources they need in these extraordinarily difficult times.”

Read the full letter and see all signatories here.

Do you need help due to Covid-19? Click here to see what assistance is available.

Organisations and individuals in Scotland who have signed the letter

Linda Tuthill, CEO, The Action Group

SallyAnn Kelly, CEO, Aberlour

Frank Mosson, Bureau Manager, Bridgeton Citizens Advice

Dr Neil Henery, director, Camphill Scotland

Rami Okasha, chief executive, Chas

Jackie Brock, CEO, Children in Scotland

Very Rev Dr Susan M Brown, convener, Faith Impact Forum, The Church of Scotland

Derek Mitchell, CEO, Citizens Advice Scotland

Emma Ritch, executive director, Engender

Jane Brumpton​, chief executive, Early Years Scotland

Jimmy Wilson, CEO, FARE Scotland

Fiona Moss, head of health improvement & inequality, Glasgow City CHP and as chair of the Glasgow City Challenge Child Poverty Group

Neil MacDonald, VAW services, Glasgow City Council

Professor Ian Welsh OBE, chief executive, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE)

Douglas Guest, acting director for Scotland, Home-Start UK Scotland

Martin Dorchester, chief executive, Includem

Gavin Spence, manager, James McLean Project

Bishop Nolan, president, Justice and Peace Scotland

Virginia Radcliffe, artistic director and CEO, Licketyspit

Craig Samuel, NAWRA representative Scotland

New Gorbals Housing Association

Satwat Rehman, CEO, One Parent Families Scotland

Clare Simpson, manager, Parenting across Scotland

Marguerite Hunter Blair, chief executive, Play Scotland

Peter Kelly, director, The Poverty Alliance

Shruti Jain, chair, Saheliya

Shaben Begum, director, Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance

Irene Audain MBE, chief executive, Scottish Out of School Care Network

Scottish Refugee Council

Kirsty McNab, CEO, Scottish Sports Futures

Rozanne Foyer, general secretary designate, Scottish Trades Union Congress

Grahame Smith, general secretary, Scottish Trades Union Congress

Scottish Women's Convention

Jack Dudgeon MSYP, chair, Scottish Youth Parliament

Ben Farrugia, director, Social Work Scotland

Jo Derrick, CEO, Staf

Juliet Harris, director, Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights)

Adrian Sinfield, professor emeritus of social policy, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh

The Wise Group

Hugh Foy, programme director, Xaverians UK Province

Tim Frew, chief executive, YouthLink Scotland

Rachel Adamson, co-director, Zero Tolerance

 

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