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New powers must be used to blitz child poverty

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Scotland's new welfare system must be used to end childhood destitution say campaigners

Activists have called on the Scottish Government to use new social security powers to eradicate child poverty.

As part of Challenge Poverty Week, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland has set out how Scotland’s new social security powers can be used to help eradicate child destitution.

With only a week to go before the Scottish Government’s consultation on social security closes the campaigners draw on their social security expertise to publish a paper highlighting key areas where use of new powers could boost family incomes in the face of increasing pressure on household finances.

Chief among CPAG’s proposals is for Scottish Government to use new top-up powers to increase child benefit in Scotland by at least £5 a week.

These new powers provide a great opportunity to take the first steps towards eradicating child poverty by 2030

The campaigners say this policy alone could reduce child poverty in Scotland by a substantial 14%, lifting 30 000 children out of poverty.

Other recommendations set out the importance of benefits being delivered by a new national agency, how devolved social security can ensure disabled people are treated with dignity and respect and how universal credit can be delivered in a way that works for families in Scotland.

John Dickie, director of CPAG in Scotland, said: “The Scottish Government has recently announced its intention to eradicate child poverty in Scotland by 2030 and these new powers provide a great opportunity to take the first steps towards achieving that goal.

“Topping up child benefit by just £5 a week could not only reduce child poverty by up to 14%, it could set Scotland on a different trajectory from the rest of the UK, which is facing a projected 50% rise in child poverty by 2020.

“New social security powers also allow the Scottish Government to address some of the operational problems that are so common within the social security system, like lengthy delays accessing disability benefits and complex and confusing application processes. Ensuring delivery of devolved benefits is done at national level is vital to achieving real improvement."

The powers to be devolved to Holyrood include control over benefits for disabled people and carers, some benefits for families with young children and limited aspects of universal credit.