THE “stark contrast” between the UK and Scottish Governments’ approaches to helping the poorest in society have been laid bare by their actions in recent days, charities have said.
The news comes after the Scottish Government announced it will increase the Scottish Child Payment to £25 a week by the end of 2022, and will spend £10 million a year to “mitigate the UK Government benefit cap”.
Down in London, Chancellor Rishi Sunak was accused of “abandoning” those on low incomes in his mini-budget earlier in the week.
During an update in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison said the “game-changing” Scottish Child Payment will be doubled to £20 in just over a week and raised again to £25 by the end of the year.
Robison (below) made the announcement while setting out the Government’s updated child poverty strategy in Parliament, and said the increase is “expected to lift 50,000 children out of poverty”.
Responding to the news, charities welcomed the increase, saying that it comes in “stark contrast” to the measures outlined by Rishi Sunak in his Spring Statement on Wednesday.
Chris Birt, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s associate director for Scotland, said: “In contrast to the Chancellor’s abandonment of those on low-incomes yesterday, the Scottish Government is prioritising action for those who need it the most by increasing the Scottish Child Payment to £25 per week per child and mitigating the benefit cap.
“These actions should put child poverty in Scotland on a downward trajectory and hopefully on course to meet the child poverty targets”
One Parent Families Scotland said: “We are particularly delighted about the recognition by the Cabinet Secretary of the devastating impact of the UK Benefit Cap and her commitment to work with local authorities to mitigate it.
This is an inexplicable policy which mainly affects single-parent families with very young children. It makes poor families who have no choice poorer. It has pushed families into ever deeper poverty, to foodbanks and often homelessness, with devastating impacts on family well-being and health. This new commitment will hopefully change this.”
The Child Poverty Action group in Scotland said the doubling of the Scottish Child Payment would make a “big difference to struggling families across Scotland”.
A spokesperson added: “The announcement of a further £5 a week increase to the Scottish Child Payment by end of 2022 is hugely welcome, and stands in stark contrast to the UK Chancellor’s lack of support for families.”
While announcing that fuel duty would be cut by 5p and that the threshold for paying National Insurance would rise from £9600 to £12,570, Sunak’s statement has been slammed for not going far enough to help the hardest hit by the cost of living crisis.
Some have slated the statement for ignoring calls to match the current Scottish Child Payment UK-wide, and uprate benefits by 6%. Instead, Sunak will look to press ahead with plans for a real-terms cut to benefits, increasing them by 3.1%, which is only slightly more than half of the forecasted rate of inflation.
This led Nicola Sturgeon to call out Sunak’s spring statement as a “callous disregard for the misery people are facing”, on the same day as Robison’s announcement that the Scottish Child Payment would be given a boost.
Outside of Parliament, several leading charities also came out to lambast Sunak’s statement, calling it “woefully out of touch”, “deeply disappointing” and “a drop in the ocean”.
The Institute for Public Policy Research said: “Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement is woefully out of touch with the reality of the cost of living crisis.
“It fails to protect millions of families from a dramatic fall in standards of living and leaves the economy at risk of recession.”
Source: The NationalCategories: Uncategorised