Scottish Child Payment to increase to £25 a week as fresh plan to tackle child poverty published

There will be a further increase in the Scottish Child Payment benefit to bring it to £25 a week by the end of the year, the Scottish Government has announced.

The devolved benefit is due to rise to £20 a week at the start of April.

Social Security Secretary Shona Robison (pictured) announced another increase on Thursday as she published a fresh plan to tackle child poverty.

The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 requires the Scottish Government to publish a plan and provide a ministerial statement at regular intervals.

Ms Robison also announced £10 million a year will be spent on mitigating the effects of the UK Government’s benefit cap.

She said: “We will double the ‘game-changing’ Scottish Child Payment to £20 in just over a week and extend the payment to children under 16 by the end of this year.

“However, I am pleased to announce that we will go further still and will also increase its value again to £25 per week per child by the end of 2022.

“I can also announce that we will take immediate steps to mitigate the UK Government benefit cap as fully as we can within the scope of devolved powers, backed by up to £10 million each year.

“This will help support thousands of the lowest income families, including lone parent families who are disproportionately impacted by the cap.”

She said modelling projects that as a result of actions taken since 2017, 60,000 fewer children will live in relative poverty by 2023.

Ms Robison added: “We cannot accept a future where families have to choose between heating and eating and where children are unable to access the essentials they need to thrive.

“As a Parliament we unanimously rejected this future in 2017, when we set our child poverty targets in statute. And we must reject it now.”

Responding to the Cabinet Secretary’s statement, Scottish Conservative MSP Miles Briggs said his party had supported calls to increase the Scottish Child Payment.

But he said the latest child poverty plan lacks action to ensure children are not living in temporary or unsuitable accommodation.

He said: “We need to see a new approach and if the Cabinet Secretary had consulted with other parties, I would like to see us develop a plan to go further and to ban children living in temporary and unsuitable accommodation.

“That’s something which we could have had in this document, which I’m sorry to say is not there.”

Scottish Labour’s Pam Duncan-Glancy said the costs of mitigating the benefit cap could be greater than the £10 million which had been allocated.

She said: “I welcome a further increase to the Scottish Child Payment, but it can’t be ignored that it took too long to raise it to £20 in the first place.

“So long, that the Government stands here today telling us it’ll increase to £25, families are still waiting for it to reach £20 and that won’t even happen until April.”

Meanwhile responded to the plan, Peter Kelly of the Poverty Alliance said: “A clear message from Poverty Alliance members ahead of the new plan was to ‘put money in people’s pockets’.

“Commitments to increase the Scottish Child Payment to £25 by the end of this year and to mitigate the unjust benefit cap are therefore welcome.

“However, there is significant scope to go much further to ensure that cash makes it to those who most need it.

“There is clear evidence that increasing the Scottish Child Payment to £40 would have an even greater impact in unlocking families from poverty and take us closer to the target of eradicating child poverty by 2030.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2022, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Jane Barlow / PA.