Investment of almost £1 billion to tackle child poverty in the last financial year has been welcomed by Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison. She has also pledged to bring forward “game changing” policies as she called for society to unite to eradicate child poverty in Scotland.
Ms Robison was speaking as she detailed the findings of the third progress report on Tackling Child Poverty.
She said: “The report highlights our investment in low income families with children continued to grow as we sought to offer support during the pandemic. Direct support to families with children rose to more than £978 million in 2020-21 – including £118 million in response to COVID-19. This was part of almost £2.5 billion invested to support low income households, including more than £434 million of COVID-related investment in social assistance. The report also shows that all 66 of the actions we have previously reported on are either in progress or being delivered. We have made considerable progress over the first three years of this plan, but further action is needed. We must continue to deliver at the pace and scale with which we responded to the pandemic. We must work across government and with wider society to bring forward the game-changing policies needed to deliver on our ambition to eradicate child poverty.”
Ms Robison highlighted a range of important supports introduced in the last 12 months.
- Scottish Child Payment for eligible children aged under six, with thousands of families already benefitting from an additional £40 every four weeks
- Investment of more than £56 million in the free school meal provision for low income families during school closures, periods of online learning and school holidays
- The distribution of Pandemic Support Payments, with £100 paid in spring and a further £100 being paid around the start of the summer holidays. This is part of a £520 package this year, benefitting around 145,000 children and young people from low income households
Ms Robison added: “We have always been clear that delivering upon the child poverty targets will be incredibly challenging, especially given the limited powers available to this Parliament. The Covid pandemic will make reducing poverty that much harder. However, we are serious about ending child poverty in Scotland and have committed a wide range of actions to do just that.”