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Living costs still outstripping Scottish Government's support for families


Research published ahead of final vote on Scottish Budget

A huge gap remains between the cost of raising a child in Scotland and actual family incomes, despite the significant impact of Scottish government policies and lower childcare costs.

A new report published today (26 February 2024) by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland has found that as a result of inflation and the enduring impact of UK benefit cuts, families with children who have little or no paid work still receive under half what they need through universal credit and child benefit.

In Scotland, the report finds families are benefitting from a range of Holyrood policies to reduce these costs and to improve incomes. The Scottish child payment, universal free school meals for all pupils in P1 to P5, best start payments, free bus travel for young people under 22 and school clothing grants, alongside cheaper than average childcare, can reduce the net cost of bringing up a child in Scotland by over a third for low-income families.

For typical out-of-work families in the UK as a whole, support available through the social security system is more than 50% short of the income needed to meet a socially acceptable standard of living. In Scotland, the additional support and lower costs mean that this shortfall is reduced to around 40 per cent. The research also finds that working families, while benefitting from lower-cost childcare in Scotland as compared to England, are often still unable to meet the minimum socially acceptable standard of living even if working full time on the ‘national living wage’.

Along with other members of the End Child Poverty coalition, Child Poverty Action Group have sent  a Budget Scorecard briefing to all MSPs ahead of tomorrow’s final vote on the Scottish government’s tax and spending plans. In it they say they are “bitterly disappointed” that the draft Scottish Budget for 2024-25 fails to sufficiently build on existing Holyrood support for families.

As it stands, they say the Budget will at best stall progress on child poverty.

John Dickie, Director of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said: “This important analysis confirms that Scottish government policies that are already in place, not least the Scottish child payment, are making a big difference to families. But there is still a huge gap between incomes and the minimum cost of raising a child.

“The Scottish Budget needs to do far more to plug that gap. It’s bitterly disappointing that as yet we have not even seen an increase in the Scottish child payment to the £30 per week that the First Minister said he wanted during his leadership campaign. This new analysis shows just how much more is needed to ensure families have an adequate income to give their children a decent start in life.”

The report’s author, Dr Juliet Stone, a Research Fellow at the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, added: “As the cost-of-living crisis continues to severely stretch the incomes of families across the UK, the additional financial support provided to households with children in Scotland, particularly through the Scottish child payment, is more important than ever.

“However, even in Scotland the social security system still fails to provide enough for these households to reach a minimum socially acceptable standard of living. Much more needs to be done to protect children and their families from financial hardship.”



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