Thu 23 Jan, 2020

With child poverty projected to soar to almost four in ten Scots children by the 2030s, it is vital we do everything in our power to boost the incomes of poorer families Alison Johnstone

Scottish Greens today have backed calls from the new benefits system watchdog for the value of new child payments to be ‘double locked.’

The £10 payment for low-income families will launch this year, beginning with under 6s.

But concerns have been raised by the Scottish Commission for Social Security that the impact of the payment on poverty will be weakened unless the Scottish Government guarantees the payment will be annually uprated by the higher of rising prices or rising average incomes.

The Scottish Government’s core measure of poverty is calculated by comparing household incomes, so in years where household incomes increase faster than rising prices, the impact of the payment on child poverty will decrease.

The Commission said providing a ‘double lock’ “would be the most effective way of ensuring the SCP remains an effective means of reducing child poverty.”

The Commission made a number of other recommendations, including measures to ensure that those families whose children turn six before the scheme is rolled-out to older children do not lose entitlement. This issue is believed to be the result of UK Government data not being available in time.

Scottish Greens Social Security Spokesperson Alison Johnstone MSP said: “With child poverty projected to soar to almost four in ten Scots children by the 2030s, it is vital we do everything in our power to boost the incomes of poorer families.

“The Scottish Child Payment is the Scottish Government’s flagship policy in its fight against Child Poverty, so it cannot allow the payment’s ability to fight poverty to be eroded.

“Ministers should seriously consider protecting the value of the payment with a double lock.

“The Scottish Government should also be looking at urgently at what can be done to stop families having gaps in their entitlement when their child turns six. If this is a problem with accessing the right data from UK authorities in time, the UK Government should do what it can to speed this process up, and Scottish Ministers should have a contingency plan in place if this is not possible."

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