Scotland faces rising tide of poverty
A majority of people in Scotland support next month’s Scottish Government budget being used to double the Scottish Child Payment immediately.
Campaigners continue to press for Kate Forbes, cabinet secretary for finance and the economy, to back the move.
The polling, conducted by Survation for the End Child Poverty coalition in Scotland, revealed that – once ‘don’t knows’ were excluded – 68% of people in Scotland support the immediate doubling of the benefit for low-income families. Among those who voted for the SNP at May’s Holyrood elections, this figure jumped to 74%.
Young people aged 16-34 were even more likely to back the call, with that figure reaching 79% in favour.
It comes amid mounting pressure on the Scottish Government to respond with urgency to what campaigners are calling a “rising tide of child poverty” across Scotland. On 18 November, over 100 organisations from across Scotland wrote to Kate Forbes urging her to “do the right thing” and use December’s budget to double the payment.
While the Scottish Government have said the payment will be doubled ‘as soon as possible’ during the course of this Scottish Parliament, as of yet they have resisted calls to do so immediately. But anti-poverty campaigners have warned that, unless the Finance Secretary uses December’s budget to act immediately, Scotland’s child poverty targets risk failure.
Responding to the poll findings, Peter Kelly, director, Poverty Alliance, said: “In Scotland, people believe in protecting one another and in doing the right thing. As this new polling makes clear, they overwhelmingly support taking action now to stem the rising tide of child poverty.
Children and families living in the grip of poverty right now simply cannot wait. Scottish ministers must listen to people across the country who are calling on them to do the right thing, and double the Scottish Child Payment now.”
Polly Jones, head of Scotland, Trussell Trust, said families across Scotland are facing a really difficult winter. She added: "Right now, food banks in the Trussell Trust network in Scotland are giving out a food parcel every three minutes to people in crisis. This isn’t right, especially when we have the power to change this. Doubling the Scottish Child Payment now would be a huge boost to Scotland’s struggling families and I hope Ministers will listen to the public and act.”
Claire Telfer (Head of Scotland, Save the Children) said: “This polling confirms what we know and what we’re hearing from parents and families across Scotland: the Scottish Child Payment is making a huge difference but it’s not going far enough and it needs to be doubled. Just last week a parent told us ‘Doubling the Scottish Child Payment would make a massive difference, any extra money a week would help.
"We know that many families with young children in Scotland are struggling to make ends meet, parents are going without food or not putting the heating on, to care for their children. As a society we can – and must – do better. Next month’s budget is a golden opportunity to act now and support families and drive down poverty by doubling the Scottish Child Payment.”