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Scottish child poverty benefit ‘to be brought forward’

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child povertyImage copyright Getty Images

A new Scottish benefit to tackle child poverty is expected to be fast-tracked.

The Scottish government is expected to bring forward its “family income supplement” which was due to begin in 2022.

Charities have been putting pressure on the government to introduce the cash benefit sooner to help struggling families.

Latest government statistics indicate almost a quarter of children in Scotland are living in poverty.

That amounts to about 240,000 youngsters, where poverty is defined as the household income of below 60% of the UK median after housing costs. In 2018 the median UK disposable income was £28,000, and 60% of that is £17,040.

On Monday, campaigners said the legislation for the new benefit should be included in the next programme for government, with an interim version put in place during the process.

They said waiting for 2022 was too late when many families were struggling now.

Last year, the Scottish government published its first Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, which outlined a range of actions aimed at meeting child poverty targets. It was backed with a £50m fund.

A one-year progress report on the plan is to be given to MSPs on Wednesday during which ministers are expected to announce the early introduction of the family income supplement.

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell will tell parliament that the government has listened to concerns.

Image copyright Getty Images

Ms Campbell said: “As the only country in the UK with ambitious income-based targets to eradicate child poverty, Scotland is firm in the belief that we can do better, and we will.

“That is why today I will set out to parliament the progress we have made in the past year on child poverty and our next steps.

“Our actions stretch right across government to help people on low incomes at every stage of life.

“From new devolved benefits offering support during pregnancy through to starting school, promoting the real living wage and ensuring everyone has a warm, secure place to call home, we have a concerted and clear strategy.”

‘Social calamity’

As part of the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act passed in February 2017, targets were set that by 2030 less than 10% of children living in Scottish households should be living in relative poverty.

It also set out that less than 5% should be living in absolute poverty, less than 5% should be living with combined low income and material deprivation and less than 5% should be living in persistent poverty.

The act also set a requirement for Scottish ministers to publish child poverty delivery plans at regular intervals, with annual reports to measure progress.

The Scottish government claims its plan is “a different path to UK government austerity”.

It said its own previous analysis estimated UK government cuts to social security since 2010 would amount to £3.7bn annually by 2020/21.

And it said new analysis showed that the Scottish government has invested over half a billion pounds in the last year alone, targeted at supporting low income families across a range of policy areas.

Content provided by the BBC. Original piece can be found here https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-48765507

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