Cosla warns Scottish Government’s draft budget would impact child poverty targets

A body representing councils across Scotland has raised fears that the Scottish Government’s draft budget will impact their ability to meet child poverty targets.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) warned the proposals would result in a £95 million cut to revenue and £117m reduction to capital funds – £300m and £130m in real terms respectively.

Cosla claims the proposals put the government’s 2030 child poverty targets at risk, saying there has not been enough consideration for successive years of cuts, rising inflation and demand.

Stephen McCabe, Cosla’s children and young people spokesman, said: “Scottish and local government are supposed to have a joint priority to tackle child poverty in all forms.

“Councils lobbied the government hard to address our concerns over child poverty by investing in the essential services that councils deliver – from social work services that support families to work through complex, deep-rooted issues to holiday lunch clubs that provide food and vital links to other services such as employability, income maximisation and housing.

“As the budget stands, these services will be under threat and the central role that councils have in reaching the most vulnerable is once again not fully recognised.

“The risks of not investing include a generation of children continuing to live in poverty and unable to reach their full potential, homelessness, persistent unemployment in some families, hunger, family breakdown and its wider societal costs to all parts of the public sector.

“We are calling on the government and the parliament to address these concerns, listen to our asks and prevent the loss of essential council services which communities rely upon.”

Scotland is the only UK country with income-based targets to eradicate child poverty.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The first update on our Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, which is backed by a £50 million fund, showed that 48 of the 58 actions in the plan are in progress or being delivered.

“The Budget included £7 million of additional investment for the new Parental Employability Support Fund, which will help tackle child poverty by ensuring parents can access jobs and progress within employment and will link with the opportunities that our massive expansion of Early Learning and Childcare bring.

“The Budget also included a £3.4 billion allocation to our new social security system for benefit spend.

“Our Best Start Grant offers financial support to low-income families in the early years of a child’s life and we will introduce the Scottish Child Payment for children under six by the end of the year.

“The payment has the potential to lift 30,000 children out of poverty when fully rolled out.

“Local Authorities will receive total funding from the Scottish Government of £11.3 billion in 2020-21.

“Taken together with the flexibility to increase council tax, our local government settlement gives councils an increase of revenue spending of up to 4.3% in real terms to deliver local services.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2020, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Gareth Fuller / PA Wire.

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