News: Scottish Child Payment marks one year anniversary
Posted 16 February, 2022 by Nina Joynson
This month marks one year since the first Scottish Child Payment. However, despite the increased value and progress on expansion, critics argue it is still not enough.
The payment came into force in February 2021 as a direct measure to tackle child poverty, providing eligible parents with £10 a week to support the costs of childcare.
The families of around 105,000 children have benefitted from the £520-a-year support so far. Following calls from across the children's sector, the payment is set to double to £20 a week from April.
Currently available to parents with a child under the age of 6 claiming one or more benefits, the Scottish Government aims to expand the eligibility to include those with children under 16 by the end of 2022.
Discussions between Scottish and UK Government
The expansion to under-16s is dependent on data from the UK Government’s Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) regarding the qualifying benefits.
Despite an initial delay, Chloe Smith, the DWP Minister with responsibility for devolution issues has now confirmed "the data set that Scottish Government needs has been agreed", meaning the timetable for roll-out appears to be on track.
If delivered, over 400,000 children will be eligible for the doubled payment by the year end.
Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, said:
"From April, our Scottish Child Payment will double to £20 a week - four times the amount anti-poverty campaigners originally asked for. Together with our Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods payments, this will provide a package of financial support worth £8,400 by the time an eligible family’s first child turns 6.
“The extension to 16 year olds will continue this progress with the number of eligible children increasing to 430,000. In 2023-24 we estimate the Scottish Child Payment could lift 40,000 children out of poverty.”
“This is part of the national mission we have set ourselves and society to tackle child poverty and our focus must be relentless and constant."
More progress needed
However, the Poverty and Inequality Commission argue that more needs to be done.
A report published by the commission last month (click to read) criticised progress so far, warning that child poverty targets would be missed if more wasn’t done “at much greater scale and pace”.
Alongside a number of recommendations the Commission specifically call for the payment to be doubled again, to £40 a week, if the government’s child poverty targets are to be met.
A timeline of the Scottish Child Payment
- June 2019: the Scottish Government commits to introducing the payment as part of the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan
- February 2021: the fund is rolled out, with parents of children under 6 eligible for a £10 weekly payment
- November 2021: the Scottish Government announces plans to double the payment to £20 per week
- April 2022: the increased payment takes effect
- End 2022: eligibility will be expanded to include the parents of children under 16.
Families are currently eligible for the Scottish Child Payment if:
- You live in Scotland
- You or your partner are the primary caregiver for a child under 6
- You or your partner receive one of the following benefits or payments: universal credit, child tax credit, income support, pension credit, working tax credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance.
Receiving the payment will not affect any other governmental benefits that the applicant currently receives.