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Sturgeon told to 'do the right thing' and double payments to needy parents

ANTI-POVERTY organisations, charities and unions are calling on the SNP government to “do the right thing” and commit to doubling payments made to families in need in this year’s budget.

The letter, co-ordinated by the End Child Poverty coalition, urges ministers to use the upcoming Programme for Government to commit to doubling the Scottish child payment, the £10 per week per child benefit for low-income families.

The group warned First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that if Scottish ministers fail to double the payment now, then “more and more children will be pulled into poverty and the opportunity to meet the interim child-poverty targets will be missed.”

Ministers have already introduced the £10 a week Scottish child payment to help low-income families with children — currently made to those with youngsters under six. They plan to expand it to older children next year and the SNP has pledged to double the payment, but no date has yet been announced.

Signatories to the letter include the Poverty Alliance, Save the Children, Action for Children, Engender, and Barnardo’s Scotland.

Polly Jones, food bank charity the Trussell Trust’s head in Scotland, said: “Over the last year, families have struggled more than most. We have the powers and we have the cross-party consensus to double the Scottish child payment now.

“If Scottish ministers are serious about making ending child poverty a ‘national mission,’ then we must not delay.”

The letter urges the Scottish government to capitalise on the cross-party consensus that already exists and commit to doubling the payment in this year’s budget.

The groups also called on the British government to abandon plans to end the £20 universal credit uplift.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS teaching union, said: “The real risk that poverty poses to the educational outcomes and life chances of large numbers of children is one that Scotland as a country simply should not be taking as we look to emergence from the pandemic and education recovery.”

A Scottish government spokeswoman said that tackling child poverty is a national mission for the government, and tens of thousands of families are already benefiting from the Scottish child payment, with a commitment to double this within the parliamentary term. 

The UK government said its universal credit uplift was always intended to be a temporary measure to help households through the pandemic, with its Plan for Jobs already benefiting workers.

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