Challenge Poverty Week 2021: Scottish Government must do the right thing


Over the last few months things have started to feel a bit better for many of us.

A sense of normality has begun to creep back into our lives as we begin to enjoy many of the things we have missed over the last year and a half.

Holidays, eating out, concerts. All the things we used to take for granted and now are able to return to doing.

But for low income families there is little to celebrate.

The end of the covid crisis may be in sight, but for millions of families across the UK the financial crisis is about to get much worse.

At a time of deepening financial uncertainty for many, the UK Government has chosen to take money out of the pockets of low income families.

From this week hundreds of thousands of families across Scotland who receive Universal Credit will lose £20 a week from their income.

That is more than £1000 a year.

The Joseph Roundtree Foundation calculated that the combination of the cut to Universal Credit, a rise in energy prices and increasing living costs means that working families who rely on Universal Credit will be more than £1600 a year worse off.

This will be catastrophic for low income families.

The UK Government’s own figures show that child poverty across Britain will rise as a direct result of this cut.

But still they are intent on removing the vital £20 a week financial lifeline that millions have needed to survive during the pandemic.

Families who are already stretched to breaking point are now looking towards winter not knowing how they will pay their bills or buy their children warm clothes or put food on the table.

At Aberlour we have seen how the financial impact of the pandemic has made things much worse for families who were already struggling.

More and more families have been pulled into poverty over the last eighteen months as a result of reductions in household income and losing jobs, relying foodbanks and charitable crisis funds like our own.

We have been able to do what we can, supporting thousands of families across Scotland with cash grants to help them afford the basics for them and their children.

But for every family we help there are hundreds more that we haven’t been able to reach.

That’s why we need the First Minister to live up to her pledge to make ending child poverty her ‘national mission’.

And to follow up on her manifesto commitment by doubling the Scottish Child Payment to £20 per child per week for all low income families in Scotland – a commitment shared by all parties in the Scottish Parliament.

But this must happen now.

Families facing extreme financial hardship can’t wait any longer and urgently need this boost to their incomes.

This week hundreds of thousands of families across Scotland are about be plunged further into poverty.

They UK Government may choose not to do the right thing, but the Scottish Government must.

SallyAnn Kelly, Aberlour CEO

SallyAnn Kelly, CEO Aberlour