The Scottish Government has announced the introduction of a brand new benefit which it hopes will help to “tackle child poverty head on” and undo some of the damage caused by Westminster welfare cuts.
The new £10 a week ‘Scottish Child Payment’ will be paid on top of Child Benefit to eligible families, with no limit on the number of children parents can claim for.
It will be introducted for under sixes in early 2021, before being rolled out to all remaining eligible families with children under 16 by the end of 2022.
It is believed that 410,000 children in Scotland could be eligible for the new benefit, equal to over a third of all children living in Scotland, and is forecast to lift 30,000 children out of relative poverty by 2023/24.
For a family with two children under the age of 16 this new benefit would mean additional support of more than £1,000 a year.
Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “Scotland is facing a spike in child poverty as a result of welfare cuts imposed by the UK Government.
“We will not stand by and simply watch that happen. We will act.
“We will help families with £10 per week for every eligible child under 16 years old in Scotland, with over a third of all children benefitting.
“That can make a massive difference to thousands of children across Scotland – and tackle child poverty head on. It will mean more families are able to make ends meet.
“Almost 60% of all children in poverty live in a family where a child is under six years old, which is why we will deliver the payment for this group first.
“The Scottish Child Payment will not only help raise children out of poverty but is also designed to help prevent those just above the poverty threshold from sliding under.
“This is a real preventative measure that will tackle child poverty head on in Scotland and help mitigate against continuing UK Government austerity.”
John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group Scotland, said: “Today’s announcement is a landmark recognition of the role the Scottish social security system can play in ending child poverty.
“It’s now vital that the UK government follows suit and starts to use its powers in an equally positive way and scraps the universal credit two-child limit and the UK benefit freeze, so that government at every level works together to protect children from poverty.”
Adam Corlett, Senior Economic Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “The Scottish Child Payment should be warmly welcomed. Directing £180 million to the lowest income Scottish families is the right policy choice at a time when child poverty is set to rise.
“This welcome step will need to be followed by further action if the Scottish government is to meet its 2023 child poverty target, but this is a very significant step in the right direction.
“As well as being good news for Scottish children and parents, the new payment provides an example that Westminster should be paying close attention to.”