Call for Scottish Child Payment to be quadrupled as 'shameful' Falkirk child poverty stats laid bare
The Scottish Government is under pressure to quadruple the Scottish Child Payment to tackle child poverty in Falkirk after it emerged more than one in four youngsters in the area are living in destitution.
Figures revealed there were 6980 children living in poverty in the region in 2019/20, which gave Falkirk a child poverty rate of 24.8 per cent.
A study conducted on behalf of the End Child Poverty coalition shows the level of child poverty in the region increased by 2.1 per cent between 2015 and 2020.
Scottish Labour MSP Richard Leonard is urging the SNP to take action after the party failed to set out a concrete timeline for doubling the Scottish Child Payment in its Programme for Government.
The Scottish Child Payment is for parents or carers on low incomes who have a child under six. The £10-a-week payment is for each child under that age and is made every four weeks by Social Security Scotland.
Currently, 3110 children in Falkirk receive the Scottish Child Payment.
However, the true number of children who would be helped would be higher once eligibility is extended from under sixes to cover all under-16s and take-up is improved.
Increasing the Scottish Child Payment to £40-per-week is expected to lift up to 80,000 children out of poverty across Scotland, slashing child poverty by nearly a third with one move.
The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act drafted in 2017 mandated that by 2023/24 fewer than 18 per cent of children should be in relative poverty and that by 2030/31 it should be fewer than 10 per cent.
Forecasts indicate the Scottish Government will miss its interim child poverty target by six percentage points, leaving an extra 50,000 children in deprivation.
Mr Leonard said: “One child living in poverty is one too many – it is simply shameful that nearly 7000 children in Falkirk are growing up below the breadline.
“Increasing the Scottish Child Payment would transform countless lives in a single move. This is our best chance to meet our legal Child Poverty targets – but more importantly it is an opportunity to make a real difference to these children’s lives.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Tackling child poverty is a national mission for this government which is why we introduced the Scottish Child Payment.
“The payment is the most ambitious child poverty reduction measure anywhere in the UK, having now supported over 108,000 children under six with £10-a-week payments.
“We are committed to doubling it to £20-per-week as soon as possible, lifting a further 20,000 children out of poverty. This will make it four times the amount campaigners originally asked for.
“Ahead of extending the Scottish Child Payment to under-16s, we are investing £77m a year through annual £520-a-year bridging payments in 2021 and 2022. These payments are providing immediate support to around 148,000 children and young people from low income families.
“We will also continue to urge the UK Government to reverse their £20 cut to Universal Credit which is set to push a further 20,000 children into poverty and cause hardship for many more.
“We have outlined ambitious actions within our limited powers to lift children out of poverty, but recognise with full powers over areas such as social security and employment we could do so much more.”