Tackling child poverty is a national mission for this Government. We remain absolutely committed to driving progress against the ambitious targets we set in the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 and to improving the lives and outcomes of children and families despite the most challenging of times.
We have set out ambitious next steps for the period 2022-26 in our second Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 'Best Start, Bright Futures'. It retains our sharp focus on the three drivers of poverty reduction and the six priority families at greatest risk of poverty, recognising the need for wider holistic support that wraps around families. The actions will be delivered alongside our partners; further strengthening support for families, driving progress toward the ambitious targets set and helping to break the cycle of child poverty.
Across the four years, from 2018 – 2022, of our first child poverty delivery plan 'Every Child, Every Chance'we delivered a range of new and strengthened support – helping to tackle child poverty head on and to offer more help to families. This report is the last highlighting the progress in that plan. We have now delivered on all the actions in 'Every Child, Every Chance'. This includes bringing in the statutory duty for eligible children to receive 1,140 hours of fully funded Early Learning and Childcare, achieving our ambitious target to deliver 50,000 affordable homes and providing increased financial support to families including through Scottish benefits such as our Scottish Child Payment, Best Start Grants and Best Start Foods.
We have also gone further than original commitments set out in 2018 for example by providing immediate financial support to school age children through innovative Bridging Payments of £520 a year and expanding free bus travel to children and young people under the age of 22.
As this progress report demonstrates, we have used the powers available to us to provide financial support to families that is unparalleled across the UK. In 2021-22 we invested almost £2.6 billion in support targeted to low income households, of which over £1.1 billion benefitted children. This brings investment over the four years of 'Every Child, Every Chance' to almost £8.5 billion targeted toward low income households, of which almost £3.3 billion benefitted children. This is significant investment, and our Resource Spending Review sets out our plans to go further – including through investment estimated at almost £1.8 billion in awards of our Scottish Child Payment across 2023-27.
We also continued to support people impacted by the pandemic. This includes delivering a £41 million Winter Support Fund and providing children opportunities to socialise, reconnect and access healthy, nutritious food through our ambitious £20 million 'Get into Summer' programme.
We are also taking action to support people through our COVID Recovery Strategy. In that we reaffirm our commitment to working differently with our partners and to build on the learning from our collective response to the pandemic focusing on three key outcomes: financial security for low income households; the wellbeing of children and young people; and good, green jobs and fair work. We have also set out our vision for a wellbeing economy and the actions needed to deliver this through our National Strategy for Economic Transformation.
As we look forward, we recognise the acute pressure the cost of living crisis is putting on low income families with children. We remain committed to doing everything in our power to help. We have already doubled the value of our Scottish Child Payment and will further increase it to £25 per week by the end of this year. This is in addition to delivering a package of cost of living measures and increasing the value of eight Scottish social security benefits by 6%. We will continue to explore what additional steps we can take to support people impacted at this challenging time.
I am grateful to all of our partners across Scotland who have supported the implementation of 'Every Child, Every Chance' and the development of 'Best Start, Bright Futures' – in particular those individuals who have shared their lived experience with us. We remain firmly committed to strengthening these partnerships in the months and years ahead in order to drive progress on our national mission to tackle child poverty.
Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government
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