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Response from End Child Poverty to New Child Poverty Delivery Plan

31
Mar
2022

Today we should discover the latest figures on child poverty in Scotland. While, the impact of the pandemic on data collection means we are unlikely to see an official figure for the year up to 2021, we know the situation isn’t good.

As members of the End Child Poverty coalition, we have witnessed the hardship faced by tens of thousands of families across Scotland.

Even with furlough, the temporary £20 uplift to Universal Credit, and additional pandemic support, many parents – particularly lone parents, from Black and minority ethnic families, and those affected by disability – struggled to put food on the table, heat their homes or ensure their children could participate in the new world of online learning. Our members saw unprecedented demands on hardship funds and emergency support.

Parents went to extraordinary lengths to protect their children, often going without food and essentials themselves. Now they are being hit with eye-watering cost increases for those essentials.

Last week, the Scottish Government’s child poverty delivery plan, Best Start, Bright Futures, was launched. It must tackle the child poverty crisis we face today and set a course to effectively eradicate it by 2030.

End Child Poverty has campaigned for further investment in social security, for employment opportunities and for the holistic support families need to thrive.

And there’s much we welcome in the Scottish Government’s new Plan, in stark contrast to a UK Government with no child poverty strategy.

Increasing the Scottish Child Payment to £25 by the end of this year, ratcheting up employment support for parents and developing a ‘no wrong door’ approach so that families can easily access the support they need are all vital.

But three things are clear to us.

First, delivery is key. Government at every level, as well as every public service and employer, and society as a whole, must work together to ensure support reaches all the families that need it, quickly and without stigma.

Secondly, more is needed – in the short term, to help families stay afloat through the cost-of-living crisis, and longer term, to meet the 2024 child poverty targets and ensure a realistic path to the 2030 goal.

The Scottish Government’s own forecasts suggest that even with the new measures 17% of children will still be living in poverty in 2025/26. Further increases in the Scottish Child Payment, and a transformation to a fairer labour market – closing the pay gaps faced by women, disabled people and those from ethnic minority groups – will be needed.

Finally – no child should be left behind. While improvements to social security, the labour market, housing and childcare are needed at scale, they must also benefit all our children – whether the child of a migrant family with no recourse to public funds, or a young person in a family facing serious mental health or other challenges.

All political parties at Holyrood have restated their commitment to end child poverty in Scotland – now they need to work together to make it a reality.

scottish parliament end child poverty