Welfare policy is cutting poverty among under 16s to levels below the rest of Britain
Scotland is the only part of the UK where this additional support payment for families with children is available, and the Scottish Child Payment is the most ambitious anti-poverty measure taken across the four nations.
Each child aged under 16 in Scotland is entitled to £25 a week on top of a qualifying welfare benefit, such as universal credit or income support. The child payment was introduced in 2021 at £10 a week per child, and is one of seven welfare benefits specific to Scotland. It was raised to £20 in April 2022 and to £25 in November.
Supporters of the programme say the money is reducing deprivation among Scottish children to levels below the rest of the UK. They also say the initiative could act as a model for cash disbursements in combating poverty globally. But few people outside of Scotland are aware of it.
Scotland’s child poverty rates were 6 percentage points lower than the rest of the UK in 2019-2022, according to the Scottish government. Data from the Welsh government showed that England had the highest child poverty rate in 2020-22 at 31 per cent, compared with 24 per cent in Scotland and 28 per cent in Wales.
The Scottish Government has a target to reduce the number of children living in families in relative poverty, defined as those whose income is below 60 per cent of the UK median, to fewer than 18 per cent in 2023-24, from 24 per cent. For 2030, the target is less than 10 per cent. While this target will not be met next year, with the poverty rate falling to 19 per cent, it estimated the figure would stand at 28 per cent without its policy interventions.
The Scottish Child Payment is one of the Scottish Government’s key measures in tackling child poverty. It is an important safety net and one of many actions being taken to lift people out of poverty.
The statistics show the payment is reaching more of the children and young people who need it most and while things are clearly moving in the right direction – as Cabinet Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville recently said – we want everyone who is eligible to apply.