Scottish families 'teetering on edge' of being unable to feed children

Tens of thousands of households across Scotland “are teetering on the edge” of being unable to provide food for their children due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to public bodies.

Calls have been made for low-income families to be given extra support when the programme for government is launched next week.

Ministers confirmed last week the Scottish Child Payment – a new £10 per week per child benefit targeted at low incomes – will begin its roll-out in February having been delayed by the pandemic.

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Bill Scott, chairman of the Poverty and Inequality Commission, said: “The impact of the pandemic has not been borne equally.

Tens of thousands of households across Scotland “are teetering on the edge” of being unable to provide food for their children due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to public bodies. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

“Women have been hardest hit and, with women’s poverty being inextricably linked to child poverty, we are living amid a rising tide of hardship.

“The Scottish Government has demonstrated its genuine commitment to tackling child poverty with the planned introduction of the Scottish Child Payment, which will make a huge difference to those children’s chances of thriving.

“But it will be six months before the first Scottish Child Payments are made.

“The tens of thousands of families across Scotland who are teetering on the edge of being unable to put food in their children’s mouths or to prevent them shivering through the winter cannot wait six months.

“That’s why I am calling on the Scottish Government to use the existing powers it has to urgently put money into the pockets of families and loosen the grip of poverty on their lives.

“If we want to make sure that every child has every chance, that is the action that is needed now.”

Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, added: “Five months into the pandemic – with many parents and caregivers seeing their incomes cut and finding it even more difficult to get by – that grip of poverty has only tightened.

“Food insecurity, inadequate housing, and digital exclusion have been particularly devastating over the last few months.

“We must use all available resources to ensure that children get an adequate standard of living.

“The Scottish Government has the opportunity to pull families back from the brink.

“We urge the government to take that opportunity – action is needed now.”

Nearly one in four (24%) children in Scotland are living in poverty, according to the latest Scottish Government statistics published in March, which indicated 230,000 children are affected.

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