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News: Sturgeon centres children and families in resignation speech

Posted 15 February, 2023 by Nina Joynson

Nicola Sturgeon shared government's past and future focus on children, young people and families in speech as she resigns as Scotland's leader.

After more than eight years as First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon resigned this morning in a press conference at Bute House.

The SNP party leader announced her resignation before taking questions from journalists in attendance. 

Children, young people and families were notably central to her speech, both in highlighting the progress made during her tenure and as priorities moving forward.

Stating that she did not plan to leave politics, the First Minister said that “there are many issues I care deeply about and hope to champion in future”, going on to describe two: The Promise, and Scottish independence. 

Sturgeon said:

“One of these is The Promise – the national mission, so close to my heart, to improve the life chances of care experienced young people and ensure that they grow up nurtured and loved.

“My commitment to these young people will be lifelong.”

She also acknowledged changes that the Scottish Government has made since she became First Minister in 2014. Most of the achievements she outlined related to policies for children, young people and families, including:

  • Greater access to university for young people from deprived backgrounds
  • Investments in early learning and childcare
  • Introduction of Scotland's Baby Box
  • Launch of the Scottish Child Payment.

"As the Institute for Fiscal Studies confirmed last week, the poorest families with children in Scotland are now £2000 better off as a result of our policies.”

Journalists in attendance also centred many of their questions on policies linked to young people.

One asked the First Minister whether she had regrets over areas that had may be considered unsuccessful, including the education attainment gap.

Sturgeon responded by noting investment expansion for early years childcare and education and the attainment gap:

“If you're a young person from a deprived background or a background like the one I come from you’ve got a better chance than you’ve ever had before of going to university.”

In the final question, one journalist asked what issues the First Minister would campaign for upon returning to the backbench. Sturgeon replied with two priorities, one being the rights of care experienced young people: 

“I certainly will continue to champion that cause. It’s one that got under my skin and into my heart in a way that few other issues did over my time as First Minister. Beyond that, we’ll see.”

A red shopping basket full of bread, fruit and bottles, being held by a person wearing a white shirt.

News: New research explores the costs of a choice-led, nutritious family shop

Posted 18 January, 2023 by Nina Joynson

Research exploring what families would choose to eat if income was sufficient shows the inaccessibility of a healthy, choice-led food shop, with the politics of the school canteen adding to the cost.

Going shopping

Nourish Scotland worked with public health experts, academics, Scottish Government representatives and people with family experience to create shopping lists that reflect the realities and aspirations families in Scotland have for their food.

Starting research in 2020, four case study families were identified and community advisors collaborated to define an ideal weekly shop for each, considering lifestyle and nutrition.

Two distinct case study families were defined: large families of two adults and three children aged 7-15, and small families of a single mother and two children aged 2-5.

Cost of eating 

After the shopping lists were created, researchers monitored their costs quarterly.

In December 2022, the large families' weekly spend would average at £235.75, while small families would spend £108.90, in order to have what is considered a realistic and healthy diet.

The cost-of-living crisis added £106.81 to the large families' monthly cost, against what they would have paid in December 2021.

From this, researchers concluded that it would be difficult for any of the case study families to afford the shopping lists, showing that aspirations for what should be affordable is not matched by sufficient income.

Food stigma at school 

One of the primary questions on the shopping list relates to school lunches. The advisory groups recognised that school meals become a contentious issue as children grow older and their eating preferences change.

It was also recognised that eating environments also become more important and stigmatised, such as circumstances where children with packed lunches eat separately to those with school meals.

Arguments begin in primary school and mount to "tremendous pressure" in secondary school, where young people want to join their friends in eating out, to socialise and avoid stigmatisation.

Therefore, the advisors recommend any ideal family budget needs to accommodate for both packed lunches and out-of-school options.

Government support

While the ideal food shop is currently unaffordable to many households, the research reveals that policies such as universal school meals provision and the Scottish Child Payment can make a real difference.

Under December 2022 eligibility, the Scottish Child Payment would cover 46% of the small families' and 32% of the large families' ideal weekly shopping list.

Click here to learn more about the Our Right to Food project

A young child with their hand extended towards the camera, with three fingers up. They are wearing woollen gloves and a hooded coat.

News: Bridging Payment to be doubled following calls from across the sector

Posted 11 October, 2022 by Nina Joynson

Families in Scotland currently in receipt of the Bridging Payment will receive a doubled payment in December, after organisations called for the increase amidst cost of living pressures.

Backed by an additional £18.9 million in Scottish Government funding, Nicola Sturgeon announced that the final quarterly payment of 2022 would be increased from £130 to £260 at the SNP conference in Aberdeen.

All children aged 6-15 years who are registered for free school meals are eligible and will receive the payment automatically.


Bridging Payments were introduced in 2021 to provide equivalent support for children under 16 who are not eligible for the Scottish Child Payment.

Currently only available to children under 6, the Scottish Child Payment was introduced in February 2021 as a £10 weekly payment, before being doubled in April 2022. It will increase again in November to £25 with widened eligibility to include all those under 16.

An interim measure for 6-15 year olds, the Bridging Payment is paid quarterly and supports around 145,000 school-age children. In 2021, eligible children received £520 through the scheme, rising to £650 in 2022 due to the increase announced this week.

Coalition calls

The announcement is welcomed by those who have campaigned for its increase in recent months.

In August, over 120 groups signed a letter to the First Minister calling for the payment to be doubled in line with the increased Scottish Child Payment, noting that families "are facing increasing hardship as the cost of energy and food spirals ever higher".

Co-ordinated by the End Child Poverty coalition, signatories included charities, trade unions and faith groups.

Scottish members of the End Child Poverty coalition include Aberlour, Action for Children, Barnardo’s Scotland, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, Children 1st, Children in Scotland, Close the Gap, Engender, Home-Start in Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, Oxfam Scotland, Parenting across Scotland, Poverty Alliance, Save the Children and the Trussell Trust.

Photo of young child walking away from the camera, with a school bag on their back

News: Grant launched to help families of children at school-starting age

Posted 8 June, 2022 by Nina Joynson

Applications for the Best Start Grant School Age Payment, which will provide families with a £267.75 payment towards care for young children, are now open.

The Scottish Government is urging eligible families to apply for the Best Start Grant School Age Payment, a one-off payment aiming to help families with children of school-starting age.

Families are eligible if they receive Universal Credit, tax credits or certain other benefits, and have a child born between 1 March 2017 and 28 February 2018.

Now in its fourth year, the £267.65 payment can be used for anything that is helpful for children in that age range, such as clothes, books or craft materials.

Eligibility is linked to the child's age, rather than when they started primary school. Therefore parents who have deferred their child’s entry to school from August 2022 to 2023, or those who are home schooling, should still apply or they will lose out on the payment.

The payment is one of the government’s five family payments administered by Social Security Scotland:

  • Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment; Early Learning Payment; School Age Payment: helps towards the costs of being pregnant or looking after a child
  • Best Start Food Payment: helps towards buying healthy foods through a prepaid card
  • Scottish Child Payment: helps towards child care through ongoing financial support.

From the end of 2022, the Best Start Grant School Age Payment and the Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment will be automatically paid to families who receive Scottish Child Payment.

Ben Macpherson, Minister for Social Security, said:

“When a child is due to start school it comes with additional costs, and so I would encourage parents and carers to check if you are eligible and, if so, to apply for our Best Start Grant School Age Payment.

“This money can be used for whatever your child needs and is one of the Scottish Government’s five family benefits, which are only available in Scotland.

“We have built our new social security system to make it as straightforward as possible for people to access support. This is why people can apply online, by post or over the phone.

“You can also apply for all five family payments for all the children that you are responsible for, in a single straightforward form – and we put no cap on the number of children who can get these payments. We want every child in Scotland to have the best start in life and our social security system is here to help with that.”

Click here to find out more or apply

Child's hand putting coin into piggybank

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.

Click here to find out more about applying for the Scottish Child Payment