An open letter calling for emergency funding to prevent child poverty in Scotland has been submitted to the First Minister.
Scottish Drugs Forum along with the Poverty Alliance and a coalition of over 100 national organisations and groups have signed the open letter calling for a direct financial boost for all families living on low incomes to support them through the coronavirus crisis.
The letter states that the coronavirus crisis has had a significant impact on low income families, particularly on those already at greater risk of poverty, such as lone parent households. It expresses concern that families across Scotland are struggling to stay financially afloat through the crisis, and that the government’s progress on tackling child poverty is being put at risk.
The letter calls on the First Minister to use every tool at the government’s disposal to deliver an emergency package of financial support to all low-income families that should amount to at least the equivalent of £10 per week per child.
A range of ideas for delivering the payment have been put forward in the letter. Options include new or increased Best Start grants, an increased school clothing grant, additional investment in the Scottish Welfare Fund to provide a ‘coronavirus crisis grant,’ topping up UK children’s benefits and the use of local government powers.
It is also suggested that additional targeted support could also be delivered through increases to discretionary housing payments and Best Start Food payments.
Peter Kelly, Director of Poverty Alliance, said:
“Even before the current crisis, one in four children in Scotland were growing up in poverty. But in the last month we have seen record levels of applications for Universal Credit as people lose their jobs or see their working hours reduced.
“While many of us are struggling, families who were already getting by on low incomes have been hardest hit. Women have been particularly affected because they are more likely to live in poverty, have disproportionate responsibility for childcare and account for 91% of lone parents.
“Unless we take action now, there can be no doubt we are facing a child poverty crisis. The Scottish Government needs to use every tool in its box to protect children and families by putting money in people’s pockets.”