CHILD POVERTY IN SCOTLAND is projected to fall to its lowest level in nearly 30 years as a result of the actions taken to date and commitments in the second Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan.

More than 60,000 fewer children could be living in relative poverty in 2023 compared to 2017, according to updated modelling.

The Social Justice Secretary, Shona Robison, said a focus on long-term parental employment opportunities, strengthened social security and support to reduce household costs are at the heart of the new four year delivery plan, Best Start, Bright Futures.

Actions include Increasing Scottish Child Payment from £20 to £25 when the benefit is extended to under 16s by the end of 2022. This means £1,300 of support per eligible child per year. It is five times more than originally asked for by campaigners and an investment of £671 million over the next two years.

The Scottish Government will also be taking immediate steps to mitigate the UK Government’s Benefit Cap as fully as possible within devolved powers, through Discretionary Housing Payments.

Shona Robison said: “I am proud that our actions of the past four years, together with those set out in this plan, are projected to deliver the lowest level of child poverty in Scotland in 30 years.

“We are taking immediate steps to put cash in the pockets of families – tackling the cost of living crisis and helping to lift thousands of children out of poverty in Scotland.

“Our package of five family benefits for low income families, including the increased Scottish Child Payment, will be worth over £10,000 by the time a family’s first child turns 6, and £9,700 for second and subsequent children.

“That is a difference of more than £8,200 for every eligible child born in Scotland in comparison to England and Wales – highlighting the unparalleled support offered by this government to children across the early years.

“We will also build on our investment in employment support for parents, through new skills and training opportunities and key worker support to help reduce household costs and drive longer term change.

“Our national mission to tackle child poverty is already giving more children the best start and a bright future. We are determined to meet our ambitious targets set for 2023-24 and 2030 and beyond, so that no children in Scotland are living in poverty. We know there is not a silver bullet and this cannot be done overnight.”

Scottish Government Minister and Scottish Green Party Co-Leader Patrick Harvie said: “This plan delivers on key commitments to tackle child poverty and inequality in the cooperation agreement between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Green Party.

“We welcome the actions being taken, particularly in mitigating the UK Government benefit cap and increasing the Scottish Child Payment which will provide major support to thousands of low income households.”

John Dickie, Director of Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland said; “The announcement of a further £5 a week increase to the Scottish child payment by end of 2022 is hugely welcome, and stands in stark contrast to the UK Chancellor’s lack of support for families yesterday. On top of the doubling of the payment to £20 a week from next month it will make a big difference to struggling families across Scotland. The value and reach of the payment must now be kept under close review to ensure it is sufficient to help meet the statutory child poverty targets in 2024 and 2030. The Scottish government’s commitment today to better mitigate the UK government’s benefit cap will also be welcomed by the 4000 families affected in Scotland, many in the deepest poverty.

“Families living in poverty have been left brutally exposed to soaring energy prices and food price hikes so the clear focus of this plan on increasing incomes and reducing the costs families face is absolutely right. With its increased social security and employment support offer to parents this plan lays the foundations, but delivery is now the key to further progress. Families need adequate social security, good quality decently paid jobs, more funded childcare and genuinely affordable homes. They also need to be able to access all the support they need, when they need it. They need a ‘no wrong door’ approach to the services and benefits that open up opportunities and prevent poverty.”

John Dickie also called for more immediate support to protect families from the current cost of living crisis; “More immediate support is also needed to protect families through the current cost of living crisis. Doubling bridging payments for school aged children until the child payment is fully rolled out and pressing on with the promised roll out of free school meals to all primary pupils are two immediate further actions that would provide much needed relief to family budgets as this new delivery plan is implemented.”

* Read Best Start, Bright Futures: tackling child poverty delivery plan 2022 to 2026 here.

* Sources: Scottish Government and Child Poverty Action Group