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.”
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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