News: Programme for Government fails to increase Scottish Child Payment
Posted 8 Sept, 2021 by Jennifer Drummond
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has presented the legislative agenda and funding priorities of her government to the Scottish Parliament, including a number of commitments designed to support children, young people and families.
The 2021-22 Programme for Government includes announcements to continue with the expansion of the free school meals programme, funding to support increased teacher recruitment, a new Family Wellbeing Fund and proposals to extend funded early learning and childcare to eligible one and two-year-olds.
Whilst there was an agreement to extend the Scottish Child Payment to now include children up to the age of 16, a commitment to increase the value was notably absent.
Many of those who have campaigned for a doubling of the Scottish Child Payment called the omission disappointing and urged for it to be included in the forthcoming Scottish Budget.
Amy Woodhouse, Head of Policy, Projects and Participation at Children in Scotland said:
“As members of the End Child Poverty Commission, we have campaigned for solutions that would make a much-needed difference in tackling child poverty, and have strongly advocated for a doubling of the Scottish Child Payment as the most effective method to address the concerning increase in child poverty rates.
"We of course welcome the extension of the payment to cover children up to age 16 by the end of 2022, however we would urge the Scottish Government to act on its commitment to double the payment as quickly as possible."
"We were disappointed that this commitment was not made in this years Programme for Government and strongly urge the Scottish Government to prioritise this in its budget setting."
Peter Kelly, Director of The Poverty Alliance echoed this view. He said:
“The Child Poverty Act, passed unanimously In 2017, set out the route to ending child poverty. We are now far off that route. Getting back on track requires the immediate doubling of the Scottish Child Payment. Without this, the path to meeting our child poverty targets will become ever-more difficult, as will the lives of people locked in poverty across Scotland. We cannot allow that to happen. The Scottish Government must urgently commit to taking this action in the upcoming budget.”
Other key priorities outlined in the Programme for Government 2021-22, include:
- Free 'wraparound' childcare to be established for the lowest income families
- Investment of £120m in mental health services in the year ahead, including funding to deliver CAMHS and reduce waiting lists
- Investment of £1bn over the course of the parliament to continue work to close the poverty-related attainment gap
- Funding for councils to recruit 3,500 additional teachers and 500 classroom assistants
- Extension of free school meals to all primary school pupils, all year round
- Extension of funded early learning and childcare to all one and two-year-olds, starting with low income households
- Commitment to a review of the children’s hearing system
- A £500m Whole Family Wellbeing Fund over the course of the parliament to improve the preventative support available to families before crisis point.
The Programme for Government is due to be debated in the Scottish Parliament today.