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"Do the right thing": Calls for bridging payments to be widened amid crisis

This news post is 10 months old

The First Minister is facing pressure from a number of different groups to alleviate the burden on families.

Charities, faith groups, trade unions and other campaigners have urged Nicola Sturgeon to prioritise support for children as part of a wider policy to save households from the worst of the cost of living crisis. 

Over 120 groups have come together to sign an open letter to the First Minister, urging her to “continue to do the right thing”. 

The letter follows calls on the UK government to act to bridge the shortfall in family finances as food and energy prices soar, and commitment from the First Minister to undertake an emergency budget review following a meeting of the Scottish Government Resilience Group last Thursday.

The signatories to the letter – including the Children’s Commissioner, the General Secretary of the STUC, the Unite, Unison and EIS trade unions and a wide range of faith groups - say the Scottish government has been doing the right thing by investing in the Scottish child payment, which was doubled from £10 to £20 per week from April this year. 

However they point out that eligible children over five won’t benefit until the end of the year. 

Bridging payments, introduced to provide “equivalent” support to the child payment for at least some older children, have not been doubled. 

At a time when further massive increases to household bills are looming, they say this is leaving “a significant gap in the cash support available to families across Scotland”.

The groups are urging the Scottish Government to help bridge that gap and, at the very least, double the October and Christmas bridging payments from £130 to £260 as part of wider action to support households through the cost of living crisis.

They say this would be one straightforward way of getting more cash support to many of the households struggling most, with parents already going without food to feed their children.

John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, a leading member of the End Child Poverty coalition which co-ordinated the letter, said: “Doubling the Scottish Child Payment in April this year was absolutely the right thing to do, but older children are not set to benefit until the end of the year and their families are also facing more eye-watering price hikes this autumn. 

“Doubling the remaining bridging payments would be a really straightforward way to help plug the gaps in the cash support available to families across Scotland.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman told the Daily Record: “"The First Minister has committed to an emergency budget review to assess all opportunities to target additional resources to those most in need during this cost of living crisis.

"At the same time, we will continue to do everything within our resources and powers to help those most affected.

"This includes increasing the Scottish Child Payment to £25 per eligible child per week when we extend it to under 16s by the end of the year – with its increase to £20 in April, this represents a 150% increase within nine months.

"We are the only nation in the UK offering this vital anti-poverty benefit, as well as bridging payments worth £520 annually to support over 148,000 school age children backed by investment £150 million last year and this.

"We will also continue to press the UK Government to use all the levers at its disposal to tackle this emergency on the scale required – these include access to borrowing, providing benefits and support to households, VAT on fuel, taxation of windfall profits and regulation of the energy market."



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