NICOLA Sturgeon will today announce a major expansion of the SNP government’s “game-changing” Scottish Child Payment.
The payment was introduced by the Scottish Government as one of the central planks of its strategy to reduce poverty, with the £10-a-week payments to low-income families beginning last month.
Initially provided to those with children up to the age of six, the scheme is set to expand to all children under the age of 16 by the end of next year with work ongoing to set up the infrastructure.
Speaking in Glasgow today, Sturgeon will warn that the pandemic has hit low-income families hard, and will therefore bring forward payments to those with children aged six to 16. The families will receive “bridging payments” during 2022, with the full annual payment of £520 being paid in four quarterly instalments.
And in further expansion, the SNP leader confirmed that during the next parliament, the weekly Scottish Child Payment would be doubled to £20 per week.
She is expected to say: “The Scottish Child Payment has been described as a game changer in the fight to end child poverty. We have already committed to extending the payment to all children under the age of 16 in low-income families. It will take us to the end of next year to get the systems in place to make these payments in four weekly instalments to everyone who is eligible.
“But we know the pandemic will continue to cause financial hardship before then – so I can announce today that we will make bridging payments. We will provide the equivalent of the Scottish Child Payment to all low-income families with children in receipt of free school meals until the benefit is introduced in full.
“That will mean £520 per year will be paid in quarterly payments this year, and the same amount – £520 – will be paid in 2022. This will reach around 170,000 children and help lift more children out of poverty.
‘But I can announce today that we will go further – I want to make ending child poverty a national mission for the next Parliament.
“So, I can confirm that if we are re-elected on May 6, we will – over the course of the next term – increase the Scottish Child Payment from £10 per week for each eligible child to £20 per week.”
Sturgeon’s announcement comes as a coalition of Scottish organisations working to combat poverty today publishes its manifesto, detailing the change it believes is necessary to create a more just social security system. The Scottish Campaign on Rights to Social Security (SCoRSS) manifesto outlines the steps it feels will shape a Scottish social security system that provides a reliable and adequate safety net, tackles inequalities and ensures all households have enough to live fulfilled lives.
The manifesto, released online ahead of the Scottish Parliamentary elections, calls on the country’s political parties to commit to a range of actions, including:
- At least doubling the value of the new Scottish Child Payment, and accelerating its roll-out for children aged over six years old
- Increasing financial support for unpaid carers through the new Scottish Carers Assistance
- Establishing a fundamental review of disability assistance in order to create a world-leading, human rights-based system of disability assistance over the next Scottish Parliament
Debbie Horne, senior policy officer at Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “This election comes at a time when a properly functioning social security safety net has never been so important.
“Members of the Scottish Campaign on Rights to Social Security have seen how the pandemic affected us all, with some people hit much harder than others.
“The 2021 manifesto from the Scottish Campaign on Rights to Social Security calls for key changes, like the creation of a world-leading system of disability support and measures to tackle the inequality and poverty that still exists in Scotland.”