News

Budget delay risks action on child poverty

Published: 25 Feb 2020 00:01

Range of measures to help those who need it most is dependent on budget passing.

The drive to eradicate child poverty in Scotland will be dealt a grave blow if the latest Scottish Budget fails to pass its first hurdle, Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell has said.

The Scottish Government has set out an ambitious programme across social security, employment and housing to help those who need it most.

The ambition to end child poverty is set out in statute and around 2,500 low-income families with one child in the first year of life will be eligible to receive a total £1,572 in new benefits in 2021-22 - if the budget passes.

This includes the Scottish Child Payment, hailed as ‘game-changing’ in the fight against poverty by charities, which is worth £10 per week for every eligible child under six later this year, and for under 16s from 2022.

The budget sets out a range of measures to fight poverty in Scotland:

  • £3.4 billon for social security spending in 2020-21 that will go directly to those who need it most, including low-income families, and adults and children eligible for disability benefits
  • £645 million in investment for the expansion of early learning and childcare to provide 1,140 hours of childcare a year, saving a family as much as £4,500 per child
  • maintaining the widest range of free-to-access public services in the UK including free personal care, free prescriptions and free tuition
  • £17 million increase in spending to help meet the Scottish Government’s commitment to deliver 50,000 affordable homes over the course of this parliament
  • £7 million additional funding for the Parental Employability Support Fund to tackle in-work poverty and provide intensive employability support for parents in and out of work

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said:

“If the Budget Bill does not pass it will be a grave blow in our efforts to eradicate the scourge of child poverty from our society.

“We are taking firm action to deliver lasting change to those who need it most and any postponement of the bill is a delay in the help we can provide to the greatest number of low-income families possible.

“We are working hard so the first tranche of Scottish Child Payments can start later this year and provide help to an estimated 170,000 children under six that those children are not getting now.

“This is an example of the scale of the very real impact any delay in the passing of the bill will have.”