Programme for Government is 'missed opportunity' says child poverty charity
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Have a look at our brand new digital subscription packages!
A CHILDREN'S poverty charity have branded the Scottish Government's Programme for Government a "missed opportunity".
The Programme for Government, launched on September 7, sets out the government's intention to build a greener, fairer country for all individuals and families in Scotland, and offering the people of the country an informed choice on Scotland’s future.
It includes commitments to invest at least £1.8 billion to make Scotland’s homes and buildings more efficient and easier to heat and doubling the Scottish Child Payment as quickly as possible.
However, the decision not to raise the Scottish Child Payment immediately has drawn criticism from Save the Children.
Claire Telfer, head of Scotland for the charity, said: "[The]...Programme for Government was a golden opportunity to double the Scottish Child Payment and put more money directly into the pockets of thousands of families who are struggling to stay afloat – one that sadly has been missed.
"Whilst we wholly welcome and support the First Minister’s clear commitment to ending child poverty as a priority for this government and restating it as a ‘national mission’ – actions will always speak louder than words.
"Failure to act now to increase this essential payment leaves the government's interim child poverty targets at very real risk. Hundreds of thousands of families continue to make tough decisions everyday about what to go without.
"We are pleased to see a commitment to a plan to end the need for food banks and welcome practical support for families in increasing free wraparound childcare for low income families and will be crucial to making family life fit with finding job opportunities and increasing income.
"Scotland’s children cannot wait, which is why Save the Children continues to urge the government to double the Scottish Child Payment in the upcoming budget."
Banffshire and Buchan Coast SNP MSP Karen Adam said that the Scottish Government regarding the Scottish Child Payment was cast iron".
“I know the Scottish government are absolutely committed to doubling the Scottish Child Payment," she continued.
"The SNP had made a cast iron commitment to do so even before the UK government announced its plans to cut Universal Credit by £20 per week.
“Child poverty has been increasing in recent years due to the impact of UK government welfare cuts and has been further exacerbated by the pandemic. We cannot allow that to stand.
“As the First Minister mentioned, there literally hasn’t been a cut to the welfare state like this since the 1930s.
“That is why the SNP and Scottish Government will act and are putting in the ground work to support families in Scotland, such as committing to doubling the Scottish Child Payment, providing free school meals for all primary school children all year round, working to make dental care free for all, free prescriptions for all, free bus travel for all under-22s, and free bikes for all children who can’t afford them. I find myself asking this question more and more, what is it again the UK government are doing to support families in Scotland?”