SNP ministers have been urged to quadruple the Scottish Child Payment in a bid to meet legal targets for poverty.
Amid pressure from campaigners for the benefit to be doubled immediately, Scottish Labour has called for the payment to be increased fourfold by next year if the Government is serious about tackling child poverty.
Ahead of tomorrow’s Programme for Government, Labour leader Anas Sarwar wants the £10 weekly payment to be doubled immediately and then doubled again next year.
The party’s analysis shows that a £40 per week Scottish Child Payment would lead to child poverty reduction targets being met with to up to 80,000 children being lifted out of poverty – slashing child poverty by nearly a third.
In 2017, Holyrood agreed the Child Poverty Act, which states that by 2024, fewer than 18% of children should be in relative poverty, and that by 2030/31 it should be fewer than 10%.
Despite the commitment, child poverty in Scotland has been rising and currently sits at 26% – equivalent to 1 in 4 children.
The UK Government’s £20 Universal Credit uplift is set to be cut later this month.
Mr Sarwar said: “It is Scotland’s shame that one in four children here are living in poverty.
“One child living in poverty is one too many. One night a child spends in poverty is one night too many.
“It simply beggars belief that the SNP doesn’t seem to recognise the urgency. And the Tories must also reconsider their dangerous cut to Universal Credit which will deepen the poverty we see in Scotland.”
He added: “We need to listen to the urgent calls and double the Scottish Child Payment and commit to doubling it again the following year.
“This simple act would cut child poverty by nearly a third, transforming 80,000 lives.
“This is our best chance to meet our legal child poverty targets – but more importantly it is an opportunity to make a real difference to these children’s lives.
“Tackling child poverty is not an abstract aim – it is a moral obligation, and it is our duty to end it as soon as possible.
“We don’t have the luxury of wasting more time. We can act now to tackle the scourge of child poverty – let’s make it happen.”
Speaking last week, Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison insisted that “tackling child poverty is a national mission”.
She added: “We are making significant investment to tackle child poverty. Taken together, our investment in bridging payments and the Scottish Child Payment will total £145 million this year, allowing us to reach as many low income families as possible right now.
“We have also committed to significantly increasing the level of Scottish Child Payment, following the planned rollout to six to 15-year-olds, in order to maximise the impact on child poverty, with the full £20 payment being achieved within the lifetime of the Parliament.”