CPAG in Scotland blog
Welcome to the CPAG Scotland blog, where we comment on topical social issues and the latest research on child poverty in Scotland and in the rest of the UK. Comments and discussion are welcome – see our comments policy.
Almost at the end of the Easter holidays and I know many families are busy with activities and outings.
It’s a time for lots of fun but can also end up being expensive – especially for families with more than one child.
And for low income families, it can be even harder to find the money.
We know that’s not just a problem that comes up at holiday times. It’s a problem that starts even before a baby is born, when prams and cots that might need to be bought bring added expense to tight budgets.
Our new social security service wants to help.
The Scottish Government has published its fourth and final annual report on the impacts of welfare reform in Scotland, looking back to reforms introduced since 2010 and looking ahead to 2020. The report focuses on the financial impacts of welfare reform which are expected to reduce annual spending in Scotland by £3.9 billion by 2020/21. The report is comprehensive in its findings in relation to the financial impacts but what does this mean for the families affected?
Turning principles into practicalities
Translating political commitments into practical realities was a theme which dominated many of the contributions to CPAG in Scotland’s annual conference.
Navigating the complexities of the forthcoming Scottish social security system can seem a daunting prospect, even to a room full of welfare rights advisers well versed in benefits regulations, but the contributions of panellists and participants helped unpick some of the challenges which lie ahead.
The reduction of the benefit cap from £23,000 to £20,000 per household is currently being rolled out across Scotland. If someone is entitled to benefits and tax credits in excess of the cap, they will have their housing benefit reduced. As the person who gathers case evidence for CPAG in Scotland’s Early Warning System (which looks at how welfare reforms impact on families) I can tell you about some of the people who are already being affected by the lower cap.
David McNulty, Headteacher of Avenue End Primary School, outlines his school’s experiences with the Cost of the School Day project and the lessons learned. (This blog post first appeared on Glasgow Centre for Population Health's website)
There has been much talk and comment in the media about Ken Loach’s latest film. It’s a well-made, well written, moving film, which at CPAG we were pleased to be able to provide script advice on. It throws a spot light on the numerous and increasing problems faced by people trying to claim social security.
This blog first appeared on Glasgow Centre for Population Health website
School costs can have a big impact on children’s experience of school and can result in children missing out on opportunities and feeling left out, different and unhappy. School costs add up, from small regular costs like bus fares and school dinner money, to larger costs like buying school uniform and affording school trips.
With schools going back over the next week families across Scotland are having to buy new school uniforms, replace old shoes and battered school bags. These additional costs at the start of term can put pressure on families already struggling with low-incomes and risk children starting the school term without the correct school uniform and the stigma that can surround being visibly different.
One of the questions support workers in women’s refuges, homeless projects, hostels etc. are frequently asked is “If I go back to work, how will I afford to stay here and pay my rent?” The worry is that if you move off benefits, you won’t get any housing benefit (HB) to help with the rent.
Mary Anne MacLeod is a contributing author to Poverty in Scotland 2016 - tools for transformation. Her chapter looks at food security.