The call comes only weeks after 120 civil society organisations made a similar plea
Faith leaders from across Scotland have today united in urging the Scottish Government to “use its powers to do the just and compassionate thing” by committing to doubling the Scottish Child Payment this year.
In a joint statement released ahead of next week's publication of the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government for 2021/22, the leaders say that the levels of poverty in communities across Scotland “go against everything we stand for as a society.” They go on to highlight the “moral imperative that the Scottish Government does all it can to lift children out of poverty” by immediately doubling the £10 per week per child benefit for low income families.
The significant intervention from key figures representing Scotland’s major faith groups comes two weeks after more than 120 organisations from across Scottish civil society wrote to Nicola Sturgeon, urging her to “do the right thing” by committing to doubling the payment now.
The faith leaders signing today’s joint statement include Jim Wallace (Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland), Bishop William Nolan (Scottish Catholic Bishops Conference), Imam Dr Muhammad Rafiq Habib (Convenor, Muslim Council of Scotland), Rabbi Moshe Rubin (Senior Rabbi of Scotland and Giffnock & Newlands Hebrew Congregation), Charandeep Singh BEM (Director, Sikhs in Scotland), Madhu Jain (Executive Committee, Hindu Mandir Glasgow), Elizabeth Allen (Clerk, General Meeting for Scotland, Quakers) and Lieut. Col. Carol Bailey (Secretary for Scotland, The Salvation Army).
Jim Wallace, moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: “The vision of the early leaders of the Church of Scotland at the time of the Reformation was for a ‘school in every parish’ to allow every child the chance to have every opportunity to reach their full potential.
“Our vision today is nothing less than the eradication of child poverty. It will require all levels of Government – Scottish, UK and local – to work together and use all the powers at their disposal.
“We have the means to help and there has been support expressed across the political spectrum. Surely there must now be the will to carry this through.”
Imam Dr Muhammad Rafiq Habib, convenor, Muslim Council of Scotland, said: “Around one quarter of children in Scotland are living in poverty and we all share a moral duty to do what we can to help. These families deserve dignity and fairness.
“The Scottish Government has the opportunity next week to support those most in need by putting more cash in their pockets. I urge the Scottish Government to commit to doubling the Scottish Child Payment now.”
Peter Kelly, director, Poverty Alliance, said: “This intervention from Scotland’s faith leaders makes clear that doubling the Scottish Child Payment now is just the right thing to do.
“We have the urgent need, we have the powers, and we have the support from across all of Scotland's political parties, civil society and faith groups for doubling the Scottish Child Payment. Children living in poverty can’t wait, so let’s get on and do it now.”
Shona Robison, the cabinet secretary for social justice, said: “Tackling child poverty is a national mission for this government and I am proud that we are already supporting over one hundred thousand children through this brand new benefit. The Scottish Child Payment is unparalleled across the UK and unique in being a benefit to tackle child poverty head on.
“We have also committed to significantly increasing the level of Scottish Child Payment, following the planned rollout to six to 15 year olds, in order to maximise the impact on child poverty, with the full £20 payment being achieved within the lifetime of the parliament.”