The group, which includes 120 organisations, children’s charities, think-tanks, trade unions, faith leaders and academics, have written to the First Minister demanding she use her Programme for Government, to be unveiled after summer recess, to raise the £10-a-week payment to low income families.
The letter – co-ordinated by members of the End Child Poverty coalition in Scotland – states doubling the payment now would “signal that ending child poverty will be a defining priority for this Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament”.
The organisations said they had been compelled to write as the Scottish Government – despite all of Scotland’s five main political parties committing to the move at May’s Holyrood elections – had failed to set a timescale for the doubling of the payment, stating only that it would take place by the end of the parliamentary term in 2026.
There are also concerns the Scottish Government will fail to meet its interim child poverty reduction targets, and the letter issues a stark warning that a failure to double the SCP payment immediately will lead to “more and more children pulled into poverty”.
Polly Jones, head of the Trussell Trust in Scotland, said: “Food bank use has rocketed by 63 per cent over the last five years because people can’t afford the basics.
"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.”
Professor John McKendrick, a co-director of the Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit at Glasgow Caledonian University, added: “Poverty in Scotland can be solved and we should not accept it.
"The Scottish Child Payment is a bold and progressive development that has the potential to lift many children out of poverty. But with a rising tide of child poverty threatening to overwhelm communities across Scotland, this potential needs to be realised now.
"If we are serious about tackling child poverty, doubling the payment now is the right thing for the Scottish Government to do.”
Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, said the teaching union “unequivocally supports the call for the Scottish Government to act decisively against child poverty and double the Child Payment now rather than delaying when there is urgent need”.
He said: “Levels of poverty experienced by families in Scotland continue to be unacceptably high, worsened by the economic ravages of the pandemic.
“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.”
The SCP is a new £10-a-week payment for low-income families with children under the age of six. The Scottish Government plans to extend the scheme to under-16s by the end of next year and double it to £20 a week over the course of the five-year parliamentary term.
However, around 260,000 children are currently living in poverty and it has been projected this could rise to 29 per cent of all children by 2023 – the highest number in more than 20 years.
Eilidh Dickson, policy and parliamentary manager of feminist organisation Engender, said: “Child poverty and women’s poverty are inextricably linked.
"Women continue to provide the majority of care for children, are more likely to work in underpaid and undervalued roles, and to work part time or rely on precarious contracts.
"Women are also twice as likely as men to rely on social security for all or part of their income, even when aspects, for example the two-child limit, mean it fails to meet their needs.
“Doubling the Scottish Child Payment is an urgently needed response to supporting children and their caregivers.
"The Scottish Government must implement this now as part of its mission to eradicate child poverty, while also looking to the gender pay gap action plan and other reforms to social security. The pandemic only adds further urgency to this call as inequality and poverty deepen.”
However, a Scottish Government spokesperson said that tackling child poverty was a “national mission” for the government.
"Tens of thousands of families are already benefiting from our Scottish Child Payment and we have committed to doubling the payment by the end of this parliamentary term. We will be extending to all under-16s by the end of next year subject to the necessary data being made available by DWP [UK Department of Work and Pensions].
“Ahead of that roll-out we have introduced bridging payments worth £520 a year in 2021 and 2022, to provide immediate support to around 145,000 children and young people of school age.
"Backed by £77m of additional investment every year, this means we are reaching as many low income families as possible almost two years ahead of the full roll out of the Scottish Child Payment.”
The letter in full:
Dear First Minister,
As a broad coalition of national organisations, community groups, academics, trade unions and faith groups, we are writing to you to urge you to use the upcoming Programme for Government to commit to doubling the Scottish Child Payment in this year’s budget.
We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to tackling child poverty, evidenced in the setting of statutory child poverty targets, introducing the Scottish Child Payment and the upcoming incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. These steps have laid the foundation for tackling child poverty in Scotland and we have been delighted that they have been supported across Scotland’s political spectrum.
This cross-party agreement was also evident in May’s Holyrood elections, when all Scotland’s five main political parties committed to doubling the Scottish Child Payment. Such political consensus is welcome, and provides the opportunity for your government to act quickly and decisively in doubling the payment now.
To do so would provide a lifeline to families who are struggling to stay afloat. Even before Covid-19, people across Scotland were being swept up in a rising tide of poverty, with child poverty rising in every Scottish local authority. And the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities in Scotland and pulled many more people – particularly women, disabled people, and Black and minority ethnic people – into hardship.
With women’s poverty being inextricably linked to child poverty, the pandemic’s impact has pulled children across Scotland ever deeper into poverty. It has hit lone parents - the overwhelming majority of whom are women - particularly hard, a group already disproportionately affected by years of social security cuts.
Unlocking people from this poverty requires long-term work to tackle the structural inequalities around the labour market - particularly for women, disabled people and Black and minority ethnic people – and it will also require action like further expanding childcare provision. But we also need action now to boost incomes in the short term.
Every level of government has a duty to boost incomes where it can, and we are clear that the UK Government must scrap its planned and unjust £20 Universal Credit cut. But just as the UK Government has a moral responsibility to do the right thing, so too does the Scottish Government have a moral responsibility to use all of the powers at its disposal to loosen the grip of poverty on people’s lives.
We have the powers, we have the urgent need, and we have the cross-party consensus to double the Scottish Child Payment. If your government is to truly make ending child poverty a ‘national mission’, and if we are to ensure that a more just Scotland emerges from the pandemic, then we must not delay. Children growing up in the grip of poverty right now – as well as their parents and care-givers - simply cannot endure until the end of this Parliament to be unlocked from poverty. Their lives and life chances are too important for this action to wait.
The evidence is clear that if it is doubled now, it will represent the single most impactful action that could be taken to help meet the interim child poverty targets in 2023, and would signal that ending child poverty will be a defining priority for this Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament. If it is not, more and more children will be pulled into poverty and the opportunity to meet the interim child poverty targets will be missed. Under the current roll out plan and value, the Scottish Child Payment will reduce poverty in Scotland by between 2 and 3 percentage points. This could leave child poverty rates as high as 26% in 2023/24, when the interim target in legislation for that year is 18%. We cannot allow that to happen.
We therefore urge your government to do the right thing, to capitalise on the cross-party consensus that already exists, and to commit to doubling the Scottish Child Payment in this year’s budget. We look forward to your response.
Peter Kelly, Director, Poverty Alliance
Claire Telfer, Head of Scotland, Save the Children
Paul Carberry, Director for Scotland, Action for Children
SallyAnn Kelly, Chief Executive Officer, Aberlour
John Dickie, Director, CPAG Scotland
Martin Crewe, Director, Barnardo’s Scotland
Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland
Satwat Rehman, Director, One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS)
Amy Woodhouse, Joint Interim CEO, Children in Scotland
Christine Carlin, Scotland Director, Home-Start UK
Clare Simpson, Manager, Parenting Across Scotland
Anna Ritchie Allan, Executive Director, Close the Gap
Polly Jones, Head of Scotland, The Trussell Trust
Mary Glasgow, Chief Executive, Children 1st
Eilidh Dickson, Policy and Parliamentary Manager, Engender
Hugh Foy, Director, Xaverians UK Region
Russell Gunson, Director, IPPR Scotland
Dr Patrycja Kupiec, CEO, YWCA Scotland - The Young Women’s Movement
The Rt Hon Lord Wallace of Tankerness QC (Jim Wallace), Moderator of the General Assembly, The Church of Scotland
Emma Cormack, Chief Executive Officer, The Health Agency
Gillian Kirkwood, Chief Executive, Y sort it Youth Centre
Agnes Tolmie, Chair, Scottish Women’s Convention
Linda Tuthill, CEO, The Action Group
Steven McCluskey, CEO, Bikes for Refugees
Trishna Singh OBE, Director, Sikh Sanjog
Professor Adrian Sinfield, Emeritus Professor of Social Policy, University of Edinburgh
Jimmy Wilson, CEO, FARE Scotland
Ian Bruce, Chief Executive, Glasgow CVS
Revd Gary Noonan, Minister, Houston and Killellan Kirk
Jacqui Reid, Project Lead, EBI Unites
Innes McMinn, Manager, Independent Living Support
Suzanne Slavin, CEO, Ayr Housing Aid Centre
Fiona Rae, Interim Chief Executive, Community Food Initiatives North East
Mhairi Snowden, Director, Human Rights Consortium Scotland
Juliet Harris, Director, Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights)
Tressa Burke, CEO, Glasgow Disability Alliance
Martin Wilkie-McFarlane, Director, Wellhouse Housing Association
Morna Simpkins, Scotland Director, MS Society
Kara Batchelor, Operations Manager, Alexander’s Community Development
Murray Dawson, Chief Executive, Station House Media Unit
Ashli Mullen, Creative Director, Friends of Romano Lav
Professor John McKendrick, Co-Director of the Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit, Glasgow Caledonian University
Justina Murray, Chief Executive Officer, Scottish Families Affected by Drugs and Alcohol
Rob McDowall, Chair, Welfare Scotland
Karen Birch, Chief Officer, Abundant Borders
Liane Coia, Operations Manager, Maryhill Integration Network
Annie Tothill, Project Worker, Kairos Women+
Traci Kirkland, Head of Charity, Govan Community Project
Emma Jackson, National Director Scotland, Christians Against Poverty
Alison Bavidge, National Director, Scottish Association of Social Work
Mairi McCallum, Project Manager, Moray Food Plus
Zoe Jordan, Stepping Stones North Edinburgh
Chris Birt, Deputy Director Scotland, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Martin Dorchester, CEO, Includem
Bethany Biggar, Director, Edinburgh Food Project
Rachel MacDonnell, Bureau Manager, East & Central Sutherland Citizens Advice Bureau
Larry Flanagan, General Secretary, EIS
Shona Blakeley, Executive Director, Women’s Fund for Scotland
Rhona Willder, Development Manager, Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance
Joan McClure, Manager, Easterhouse Citizens Advice Bureau
Roy O’Kane FRSA, Chief Officer, Kanzen Karate
Craig Samuel, Scotland Representative, National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers
Margaret Caldwell, Chairperson, Care for Carers
Louise Hunter, Chief Executive, Who Cares? Scotland
Derek Mitchell, CEO, Citizens Advice Scotland
Emma Walker, Director, Camphill Scotland
Claire Burns, Director, CELCIS (Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection)
Moira Tasker, Chief Executive Officer, Inclusion Scotland
David Nallaratnam, Director, Cross Ethnic
Professor Ian Welsh OBE, Chief Executive, Health and Social Care Alliance (the ALLIANCE)
Louise Morgan, Director for Scotland, Carers Trust Scotland
Teresa Sutherland, Interim Executive Manager, Community Help and Advice Initiative
Graeme McAlister, Chief Executive, Scottish Childminding Association
Roz Foyer, General Secretary, STUC
Rachel Adamson, Co-Director, Zero Tolerance
Susan Capaldi, Manager, Home Start Cowdenbeath
Sabine Goodwin, Coordinator, Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN)
Pat Rafferty, Scottish Secretary, Unite Scotland
Gavin Yates, CEO, Homeless Action Scotland
Lorraine Kelly, Scottish Policy Officer, Magic Breakfast
Rosyn Neely, CEO, Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity
Biddy Kelly, Managing Director, Fresh Start
Professor Annette Hastings, Professor of Urban Studies, University of Glasgow
Margo Uprichard, Chief Executive Officer, The Louise Project
Alison Watson, Director, Shelter Scotland
Frazer Scott, CEO, Energy Action Scotland
Jane Brumpton, Chief Executive, Early Years Scotland
Alan Thornburrow, Country Director, Business in the Community Scotland
Pete Ritchie, Executive Director, Nourish Scotland
Elaine Downie, Co-ordinator, Poverty Truth Community
Jen Broadhurst, Bureau Manager, Argyll & Bute Citizens Advice Bureau
David Walsh, Public Health Programme Manager, Glasgow Centre for Population Health
Ewan Aitken, CEO, Cyrenians
Dr Marsha Scott, Chief Executive, Scottish Women’s Aid
John McIntyre, Principal Trustee, Ferguslie Community Development Trust
Elodie Mignard, Programme Manager, Scottish Refugee Council
Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary, NASUWT
Genevieve Ileris, British Psychological Society
Tanveer Parnez, Director of National Development, BEMIS
Sebastian Fischer, Chief Executive, VOCAL (Voices of Carers Across Lothian)
Professor Nick Bailey, Professor of Urban Studies, University of Glasgow
Professor Sharon Wright, Professor of Social Policy, University of Glasgow
Rami Okasha, Chief Executive, CHAS (Children’s Hospices Across Scotland)
Kate Polson, Chief Executive, Rock Trust
Jimmy Paul, Director, WEAll Scotland
Claire Cairns, Director, Coalition of Carers in Scotland
Jan Savage, Director of Campaigns and Membership, ENABLE Scotland
Alison Wright, CEO, Carers of West Lothian
Frank Mosson, Manager, Bridgeton Citizens Advice Bureau
Sharon McAulay, Chief Executive, STAR Project
Professor James Mitchell, Professor of Public Policy, University of Edinburgh
John Cassidy, Chair, Scottish Communities for Health and Wellbeing
Brian Reid, Manager, Scottish Christian Alliance
Lesley Ross, Project Manager Youth Work Services, Pilton Youth and Children’s Project
Sally Thomas, Chief Executive, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
Duncan Cuthill, CEO, Edinburgh City Mission
Marguerite Hunter Blair, Chief Executive, Play Scotland
Sharon Colvin, CEO, 3D Drumchapel
Paul Stuart, Branch Secretary, UNISON Housing & Care Scotland Branch
Kelly McCann, Clackmannanshire Women’s Aid