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by Niall Christie
CHARITIES joined forces today to call on the government to double the new Scottish child payment to stem the “rising tide of child poverty.”
The Scottish government will introduce a £10 per week payment for eligible families from next month as part of the Scottish government’s efforts to tackle child poverty.
Parents and carers who receive other welfare support such as universal credit or unemployment benefits are able to apply for the payment for each child under the age of six, with the benefit being rolled out for all qualifying under-16s by 2022.
But the Scottish End Child Poverty Coalition is calling for the payment to be increased to £20 per week, arguing it could help lift another 20,000 children out of poverty.
The group of 14 charities in Scotland has published a manifesto of demands before May’s Holyrood election, following concerns that the government’s current policies are not enough to meet poverty reduction targets.
Launching the manifesto, Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland director John Dickie said: “The pandemic has pulled families even deeper into poverty, while many more have been swept into poverty for the first time.
“A rising tide of child poverty now threatens to overwhelm many in our communities.
“We urge all political parties to commit to the action we’ve set out, and to use the next Scottish Parliament to loosen the grip of poverty on the lives of Scotland’s children.”
The coalition of charities is also calling for an increase in other financial support payments and funding, including Best Start grants, school clothing grants and the Scottish welfare fund.
A “child poverty-focused labour market policy” is also required, with specific actions to tackle the gender pay gap.
Close the Gap executive director Anna Ritchie Allan said: “The existing inequalities women face in the labour market means they’ve been hardest hit by Covid-19 job disruption.
“Women who were already struggling are now under enormous financial pressure as they and their families are pushed into further and deeper poverty.
“The End Child Poverty Coalition manifesto calls on Scotland’s political parties to commit to bold action to reduce child poverty.
“Ensuring economic recovery policy-making prioritises measures to build a labour market that works for women is a necessary step in tackling the growing child poverty crisis.”
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