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Scottish government faces criticism over handling of child poverty north of the border

THE Scottish government is facing criticism over the lack of progress in tackling child poverty north of the border. 

Opposition MSPs urged Holyrood ministers to take greater action to alleviate financial hardship on children after the pandemic with increasing stress being placed on families. 

In a parliamentary statement today, Communities Secretary Shona Robison warned that Covid-19 has made reducing poverty much harder. 

Scottish Labour’s Pam Duncan-Glancy argued that Scotland is set to miss its own child poverty targets, and asked why Parliament is not mitigating this by using devolved powers – including an immediate doubling of the Scottish child payment.

Ms Robison said that the government has made strong progress — including the introduction of Scottish social security benefits — but that the pandemic has meant it has not been as significant as expected.

Campaigners have also warned that thousands of families in Scotland could be pushed into poverty after a report by Westminster’s Scottish affairs committee urged the UK government to maintain the £20 universal credit rise.

The committee called on Tory ministers to make the increase permanent, with the child poverty action group (CPAG) claiming that 22,000 children could be forced into poverty in Scotland.

CPAG Scotland director John Dickie said: “Social security plays a vital role in preventing child poverty and MPs are absolutely right to highlight how critical to hard-up families it is that the UK government maintains the £20 uplift to universal credit.”

A UK government spokeswoman said that the report’s findings would be considered, adding: “We know that the best route out of poverty is well-paid work, which is why our multi-billion plan for jobs is helping people across the country back into the workplace.”

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