Child poverty campaigners have welcomed a one-off £100 grant that will be paid before Christmas
A one-off payment to help struggling families through the winter has been welcomed by campaigners.
The Scottish Government announced this week that it will invest £16m to give the low income families of an estimated 156,000 children in receipt of free school meals a one-off £100 payment by Christmas.
The move has been welcomed by child poverty campaigners, who have stressed the need for extra support for families as Covid-19 hits hard this winter. The groups had been campaigning for the Scottish Child Payment – a weekly payment of £10 to families for every child aged under six which is due to be introduced in February – to be started early.
Speaking on behalf of End Child Poverty members in Scotland, Peter Kelly, director of Poverty Alliance in Scotland, said: “It has been clear that children and families struggling to stay afloat through the pandemic cannot wait for the Scottish Child Payment for the lifeline support they need. So it is very welcome that the Scottish Government has listened to people living on low incomes and organisations across Scotland, by committing to cash grants to support families through winter.
“For many fighting to keep their heads above water amid a rising tide of poverty, the cold winter months are bringing deeper hardship. This payment will act as an anchor to help weather the storm until the rollout of the Scottish Child Payment.”
John Dickie, director of CPAG in Scotland, said: “This will be a hugely welcome lifeline for the tens of thousands of families across Scotland who have been hammered by the economic impact of coronavirus. It starts to build the bridge that is needed to prevent families from going under before the full roll out of the Scottish child payment in 2022. It comes when families have faced a year of increased costs and falling incomes as a result of the pandemic with far, far too many forced to rely on foodbanks and charity hardship funds.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We will shortly become the only part of the UK to give low income families an extra £10 per week for every child - initially for children up to age 6 and then for every child up to age 16.
“This has been described as a game changer in the fight to end child poverty. The first payments will be made in February, but I know that for families struggling now, February is still a long way off.
“So I am announcing today a £100 million package to bridge that gap, and help others struggling most with the impact of Covid over the winter months.
“It will include money to help people pay their fuel bills and make sure children don’t go hungry. It will offer additional help for the homeless, and fund an initiative to get older people online and connected. And it will provide a cash grant of £100 for every family with children in receipt of free school meals.
“The money will be paid before Christmas and families can use it for whatever will help them through the winter.
“That could be food, new shoes or a winter coat for the kids. Families will know best what they need - that’s not for government to decide.
“Initiatives like this are not just about providing practical help to those who need it most - they are an expression of our values and of the kind of country we are seeking to build.”