Close to two in three people living in Scotland back calls for the Scottish Government to increase Child Benefit by £5 per child per week, according to a new survey by poverty campaigners.
A poll carried out on behalf of the Poverty Alliance shows support among the general public to increase Child Benefit as a means to hopefully reduce child poverty levels in Scotland.
Research suggests that as many as one in four children in the UK will be living in households whose combined income is below 60% of the median UK household income in only a few years – the poverty-line.
Figures also show a stark increase in the number of working households living in poverty, as wage growth stagnates and living costs continue to rise.
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A survey of 1,037 people found that 36% ‘strongly support’ increasing Child Benefit by £5 per dependent child in a household, while a further 29% ‘somewhat agreed’ with the proposal.
Just 15% of Scots who responded to the survey were opposed to the idea and only 6% were ‘strongly opposed’, suggesting that the time has come for the Scottish Government to use newly devolved social security powers to help alleviate some of the pain of austerity felt by parents and children.
The poll comes as Stage 2 of the Child Poverty Bill is set to be introduced in Scotland, with the Scottish Government vowing to reduce the number of Scottish children growing up in hardship and destitution.
Commenting on the findings of the survey, Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “It is clear that there is a public appetite in Scotland for topping up child benefit and lifting children out of poverty.
“We have spoken with families across Scotland about what difference this could make to them, and it was clear that for many families this would mean being able to buy better food or help them afford school supplies.
“All the predictions are that child poverty is going to increase over the next few years. Now is the time to act to make sure that families in Scotland do not face even greater pressure than they already do now.
“If we are serious about eradicating child poverty in Scotland by 2030, then this is one of the necessary steps to achieving this.
“Tackling poverty is a matter of political will so let’s use the levers at our disposal in Scotland”.
Emma Trottier, policy manager at Engender, who campaign to increase equality between men and women, added: “The UK government’s so-called welfare reform agenda has been profoundly harmful to women and women’s equality.
“The measures that have been implemented in the name of austerity disproportionately impoverish women and their families, in particular lone mothers.
“Topping up child benefit by £5 per week would help alleviate suffering, giving women and their families that extra bit of help at a time when it is most needed.”