Today’s draft Scottish budget plans represent a missed opportunity to tackle growing child poverty in Scotland, say campaigners. The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland say that MSPs must now work together to ensure that final budget plans boost family incomes to lift tens of thousands of children out of poverty.
As part of today’s draft budget announcement, the Scottish Government announced plans to freeze the higher rate income tax threshold. This follows analysis published last week which found that Scotland could afford to lift 40,000 children out of relative child poverty by 2021/2022 by using the resources raised by the proposed freeze. This will raise up to £230m per year by 2021/22.
IPPR Scotland, who carried out the analysis, outlined that how these funds could be used to effectively end the two-child limit, the benefit cap and top up means-tested child payments by £20 per month in Scotland. The Child Poverty Action Group had also joined faith leaders, trade unions and children’s charities in the Give me 5 campaign to call for a top up to child benefit.
Currently, almost one in four of Scotland’s children live in poverty and this is projected to rise to more than a third by 2021/22.* Over 60% of those children live in working families.**
John Dickie, the Director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, said:
“Whilst existing anti-poverty spending commitments including on Best Start Grants are welcome, this budget so far represents a missed opportunity to go further and, at the very least, allocate the resources raised by freezing the higher rate tax threshold to lift thousands of children in Scotland out of poverty. With UK government benefit cuts driving more and more families into hardship the Scottish Parliament must use every tool in its toolbox to protect Scotland's children and meets its own statutory child poverty targets.
“The Scottish Government's commitment to a new Income Supplement by 2022 is very welcome, but hard up families really can’t wait that long. MSPs must now work together to ensure that final budget plans boost family incomes and fulfils its potential to lift tens of thousands of children out of poverty."
The Scottish Government has previously committed to introducing an income supplement for low income families, intended to lift children out of poverty. This not due to be introduced until 2022. For further comment or interviews please contact John Dickie, Director of CPAG in Scotland, on 07795 340 618
*Latest 2016/17 Poverty and Income Inequality in Scotland figures, CH 15, table showing: relative poverty in Scottish households with children (AHC) 1994/5 to 2016/17, www.gov.scot/Publications/2018/03/3017/downloads (See Associated tables); Living standards, poverty and inequality in the UK: 2017-18 to 2021-22, (Institute for Fiscal Studies) page 15, www.ifs.org.uk/uploads/publications/comms/R136.pdf
**Living standards, poverty and inequality in the UK: 2017-18 to 2021-22, Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) www.ifs.org.uk/uploads/publications/comms/R136.pdf
The Scottish Government committed to introducing an income supplement as part of Every Child, Every Chance: Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2018 - 2022. Available here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/child-chance-tackling-child-poverty-delivery-plan-2018-22/
IPPR Scotland analysis is available here: https://www.ippr.org/blog/freezing-higher-rate-taxes-in-scotland-could-help-to-lift-40-000-children-out-of-poverty