A new income supplement for Scotland's poorest families has been hailed as a game changer
A civil society campaign to ensure “game changing” new support for Scotland’s poorest families is introduced has succeeded.
The Scottish Government announced this week that it will fast-track a family income supplement as part of its plans to tackle child poverty.
Poverty campaigners had stressed the importance of taking immediate action to help struggling families, and earlier this week representatives from across civil society wrote to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon calling for the introduction of the benefit to be brought forward.
The new benefit will provide eligible families with £10 a week for every child under 16, with introduction for under sixes starting by early 2021.
The Scottish Child Payment will give more immediate support to eligible families who need it most, as almost 60% of all children in poverty live in a family with a child under the age of six.
It will be delivered to all remaining eligible families with children under 16 by the end of 2022, with no cap on the number of children in families.
And the announcement has been welcomed by Scottish charities.
Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said the move proves that Scotland is focused on tackling inequalities.
He said: “Amid a rising tide of poverty, the new Scottish Child Payment will act as a lifeline for families struggling to stay afloat. An additional £10 per week will help unlock tens of thousands of children from poverty and underlines the important role that Scottish social security powers have to address poverty.
“The early introduction of the new payment in 2020/21 for families with children under six is particularly welcome, and shows what can be done when there is political will to address poverty.”
John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, said: "This new payment is an absolute game changer in the fight to end child poverty. £10 a week for each child will make a real difference to families struggling to put food on the table, heat their homes and pay for the ordinary school trips, sport and other activities that are fundamental to a decent childhood.
“Today's announcement is a landmark recognition of the role the Scottish social security system can play in ending child poverty.”
Citizens Advice Scotland described the move as a step in the right direction and praised the work of campaigners, whilst One Parent Families Scotland said it is important that no cap on the number of entitled to support had been included in the plans.
SallyAnn Kelly, chief executive of Aberlour, said: “We know the single biggest thing that will help lift struggling families out of poverty is to make sure they have more money in their pockets and this new payment will provide a vital lifeline to many families, as well as help prevent against the associated toxic stress and consequential adversity we see effecting families across Scotland every day. This new payment is not a silver bullet to fix child poverty, but it is a significant start."