Single Scots dad says extra £10 a week child payment would stop choice between eating or heating


Paul Gallacher has to juggle finances to be able to feed and clothe his five-year-old daughter Mollie-Mae.

Single dad Paul Gallacher has to choose between food and heating every time his growing five-year-old daughter Mollie-Mae needs new shoes or clothes.

It saddens him that he cannot give her everything he knows she deserves as he tries to find work as a trained chef.

But he says an extra £10 a week from the Scottish Child Payment would help the burden on his family finances.

It comes as Nicola Sturgeon is urged by 120 leading poverty campaigners to double the “lifeline” Scottish Child Payment to help desperate families.

Paul & Mollie-Mae

Paul said: “Before Covid it was tight. We struggled from month to month on Universal Credit. If I had to get Mollie-Mae something like a new pair of shoes I had to cut back on something else like electricity.

“Christmas time is the worst time, trying to struggle to get her something for Christmas and put food on the table.

“And electricity at this time of year will be £60-70 a week.”

But as a trained chef his biggest upset is not being able to provide her with the best nutrition.

Paul, 47, from Dailly, South Ayrshire, said: “It is hard to buy fresh food every single week.

“At the end of the month she is not getting healthy food, it is stuff out the freezer or packet foods which isn’t healthy.

“Fresh food just perishes far too easily, it is hard to store it and keep it good.

“I do bulk cooking to try to get us through but I can’t cook for a full month because of freezer space.

“I do what I can but sometimes I gave to give her frozen chicken nuggets or sausage rolls which I don’t think is healthy.

“The Universal Credit £20 uplift helped but when it stops we will be away back to square one.”

“As a single parent I will struggle financially very, very soon.”

Paul is sad his little girl has to miss out on holidays, day trips and little treats.

He said: “She had one of her wee friends down to play and she brought a wee interactive doll with her.

“Mollie-Mae asked to get that for her birthday but it was away out my price range.

“I couldn’t even buy her a doll.”

He said: “It shouldn’t stop when they go into Primary Two.

“It is the only way kids will be able to get a better start in life.”

SallyAnn Kelly, chief executive of Aberlour children’s charity, said one in four Scottish children are currently living in poverty.

She said: “Even before the pandemic struck the number of children living in poverty was growing. The pandemic made that situation worse and we are looking at rising child poverty.

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to having child poverty targets but we need them to go further and go faster because we think they need to do right by those children.

“It is too late for children three or four years from now.

“We are urging the Government to double the Child Payment now, not two or three years into their administration.

“They have agreed to extend it to all six to 16-year-olds by the end of 2022. They have also committed to bridging payments to the same value for families due to receive the benefit by the end of 2022 but there is a lack of clarity about when that is going to happen.

“At the moment you have got 170,000 children eligible for the benefit but the uptake is 60 per cent. There is a gap of 40 per cent and we need to do more to encourage them to apply for it.

“It is a perfect storm where more and more families are suffering financially because of Covid, the £20 top-up money the UK Government gave to those receiving Universal Credit is likely to go and families who were relying on furlough payments will no longer be able to receive them and could lose their jobs.

“We need to use the powers we have got in this country to support the most vulnerable children in our society.

“These kids just can’t wait.

“Doubling the child payment would make a huge difference. It would take them from survival to thriving.

“Of children living in poverty 70 per cent of parents are in employment but not earning enough to keep their families.

“We would want to try to help the general public understand, when we talk about children living in poverty , it is not the case that they are from families where the parents choose not to work.

“Let’s as a nation do the right thing and lift these children out of poverty and give them the same chances and opportunities that all of Scotland’s children should have.”

This article was written by Vivienne Aitken, Health & Education Editor and published in the Daily Record. Photo credit: Daily Record.