Poverty campaigners urge SNP to speed up child poverty benefit
Leading poverty campaigners have told First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to bring forward plans for a new benefit to tackle child poverty.
The Scottish Government has said they won't introduce the family income supplement before 2022, which poverty campaigners say is too long to wait.
Leading poverty activists, faith leaders, academics, children’s charities, trade unions and women’s groups have all penned the joint letter to the First Minister calling for her to fast-track the income supplement scheme.
The Right Rev Colin Sinclair, moderator of the Church of Scotland, said: “In a caring society we need to ensure that everyone is protected.
"The way we look after our children is a key indicator of how well we are putting our values into practice. Delivering the income supplement before 2022 would go a long way to put our words into deeds and would make a significant difference for many families today.”
Some 240,000 kids live in poverty in Scotland, and the Scottish Government’s own forecasts suggest the child poverty rate will rise to 35 per cent by 2021.
Jackie Brock, chief executive of national charity Children in Scotland, said the Scottish Government had the power to act now.
"The level of poverty many families are experiencing in Scotland in 2019 is an affront to our society’s shared instincts about fairness, justice and equality. It must not be tolerated.
“Harsh austerity policies pursued by UK governments over the last nine years have been the major driving force behind this. However, the Scottish Government has the power to act now and stop further increases in child poverty. It needs to be bolder and more ambitious if it is to meet its own targets laid out in the Child Poverty Act (Scotland)," she said
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said the SNP must not ignore the call.
“This is a serious call by some of Scotland’s most senior charities which must not be ignored by the SNP.
“Children queuing with their parents at food banks cannot wait three years for help. They need it now.
“Last week it emerged the SNP government had banked almost half a billion pounds in unspent money.
“It is time for Nicola Sturgeon to put her money where her mouth is on tackling poverty and inequality.
“If Nicola Sturgeon ensures her government does that she will have the support of Scottish Labour, " he said.
Ministers are set to update MSPs on plans for the income supplement on Wednesday (26 June).