In a letter to Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, prominent charities and anti-poverty organisations have demanded immediate financial assistance for low-income families in Scotland.
The charities include Trussell Trust Scotland, Save the Children Scotland, the Poverty Alliance, CPAG in Scotland, IPPR Scotland, the Robertson Trust, One Parent Families Scotland, Energy Action Scotland and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations.
No government could have a higher priority than preventing families from being cold and hungry this winter, they argue.
The £1,200 pledged by the UK government to each of the most needy households is now catastrophically inadequate in light of rising food and energy costs.
Today it costs households £5.40 a day to achieve the same level of comfort they could achieve for £2.80 in October 2020. According to the latest energy price cap projections, from October this will rise to £9.60 per day.
It is stated in the letter that it is unreasonable to expect low-income households to cover these important expense gaps on their own.
The challenge is especially severe for rural populations in Scotland, which must contend with lower temperatures, greater living expenses, and limited access to the gas network.
In addition to doubling the planned “bridging payments” for families with children receiving free school meals, the signatories of the letter are requesting that the Scottish Government introduce additional one-time payments to families receiving the Scottish Child Payment and Council Tax Reduction, as well as doubling the Child Winter Heating Assistance.
The Scottish Government is capable of preventing the short and long-term effects of poverty on the health and wellbeing of families. But immediate action is required from all levels of government to protect those with the lowest incomes who have already reached their breaking point.
The calls come as organisations demanded that UK political leaders use Westminster’s authority to increase assistance to low-income households.
Chris Birt, Associate Director for Scotland at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, says: “Families in Scotland are facing a crisis in being able to keep food on the table and keep their houses warm this coming winter.
“Even with the significant support announced by the UK Government, families are still facing a shortfall which they won’t be able to meet from their already overstretched budgets.
“Acting now and providing immediate cash support would significantly ease the pressures which households face over the winter.
“The costs to the Scottish Government are not insignificant, but the immense pressures facing families in Scotland are such that dramatic action is needed.”