Official statistics released today show poverty is continuing to rise in Scotland, with 24% of children (240,000) now living in poverty. In response, the Give Me Five campaign, supported by senior academics, children’s charities, anti-poverty groups and leaders of Scotland’s Churches have renewed their call for the Scottish Government to deliver an immediate cash boost for families who are struggling to get by.
The Scottish Government has committed to introducing a new income supplement for low-income families by 2022 as part of wider action to meet statutory targets to cut child poverty to less than 10% by 2030.
However, the Give Me Five child benefit top up campaigners say that Scotland’s children can’t wait that long.
Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance, said:
“These alarming figures must provoke immediate action. In a just and compassionate society, it’s simply not acceptable that one in five people are struggling to keep their heads above water. While UK Government austerity policies continue to pull people under, the Scottish Government risks missing its own child poverty targets unless action is taken this year.
The Scottish Government has committed to introducing a new income supplement for low-income families by 2022, but families living in poverty can’t wait until then. Anti-poverty campaigners, children’s organisations, academics and faith leaders are united in their support for a £5 a week top up to child benefit as the most pressing and effective means for tackling child poverty. Delivering the supplement through child benefit is the most effective way to make sure no families slip through the net.”
Professor Stephen Sinclair of the Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit at Glasgow Caledonian University said:
“Today’s statistics are a stark warning that government at every level needs to act urgently. The UK Government must end the freeze on uprating benefits that’s dragging hundreds of thousands of children into poverty. But families can’t afford to wait until 2022 or beyond for the Scottish Government to use its social security powers to make a real impact on child poverty.”
”Families currently struggling to put food on the table and pay the bills can’t wait years for support. An immediate £5 top up to child benefit is an effective way of lifting thousands of children out of poverty and protecting many more from the damage poverty wreaks.”
SallyAnn Kelly, CEO of children’s charity Aberlour, said:
“The rise in child poverty in Scotland should shame us as a society, but sadly it is not a surprise. Today’s figures reflect the reality we see every day for the families we work with across Scotland, with more and more children affected by extreme poverty. Families are having to choose between heating their homes or feeding themselves.”
“We have to help struggling families by putting more money in their pockets now, not waiting until 2022. An increase in child benefit of £5 per child per week would help to lift tens of thousands children out of poverty right now. Scotland’s children cannot wait.”