SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon will today (Monday) announce a major expansion of the SNP Government’s “game-changing” Scottish Child Payment (SCP) – as she urges voters to back her to lead Scotland out of the pandemic and into the recovery.
The Scottish Child Payment was introduced by the SNP Government as one of the central planks of its strategy to reduce child poverty, with Scotland being the only part of the UK to maintain statutory targets to reduce poverty. It began making payments in February.
Unique across the UK, the SCP provides £10 a week to low-income families – initially with those with children up to the age of 6. This is set to expand to all children under the age of 16 by the end of next year, with work ongoing to set up the infrastructure.
However, speaking in Glasgow today, Nicola Sturgeon will warn that the pandemic has hit low-income families hard – and will therefore bring forward payments to low-income families with children aged 6-16
Those families will receive “bridging payments” during 2022, with the full annual payment of £520 being paid in four quarterly instalments.
And in a further major expansion, the First Minister confirmed that during the next parliament the weekly Scottish Child Payment would be doubled to £20 per week. That means over 400,000 children in 250,000 households will benefit from this expansion when rolled out.
Addressing SNP activists today, Nicola Sturgeon is expected to say: “The Scottish Child Payment has been described as a game changer in the fight to end child poverty.
“We have already committed to extending the payment to all children under the age of 16 in low-income families. It will take us to the end of next year to get the systems in place to make these payments in four weekly instalments to everyone who is eligible.
“But we know the pandemic will continue to cause financial hardship before then – so I can announce today that we will make bridging payments.
“We will provide the equivalent of the Scottish Child Payment to all low-income families with children in receipt of free school meals until the benefit is introduced in full.
“That will mean £520 per year will be paid in quarterly payments this year, and the same amount – £520 – will be paid in 2022. This will reach around 170,000 children and help lift more children out of poverty.
“But I can announce today that we will go further – I want to make ending child poverty a national mission for the next Parliament.
“So, I can confirm that if we are re-elected on May 6, we will – over the course of the next term – increase the Scottish Child Payment from £10 per week for each eligible child to £20 per week.
“It’s time to end the scandal of child poverty and this will help to do it. It is a down payment on what will be possible when we have the full powers over tax and social security that only independence can deliver.”
Ms Sturgeon will also warn that to fully recover from the pandemic, that recovery must be in the hands of the people of Scotland – and that they have a right to choose a better future when the current crisis is over.
She will conclude: “We are no better or worse than anyone else, but nobody cares more about Scotland and nobody will do a better job of building the country we know is possible than the people who live here.
“People in Scotland have the right to decide their own future in an independence referendum, when this current crisis has passed – so that Scotland’s recovery will be in Scotland’s hands. So, we can build the Scotland that we know we can be – a country of compassion, equality and love
“The SNP is ready to put our case to the country: a case that is based on our absolute belief that the best people to take Scotland forward are the people who live here.
“So, my message in this vital election – given the times we are living through, perhaps the most important election in our country’s history – is this.
“For the strong, experienced leadership that the country needs at this time of crisis, for a bold, progressive, ambitious policy programme to kickstart our recovery from COVID, and to secure the right to choose our independence, vote to re-elect me as your First Minister and the SNP as your government. Give us the mandate we need to get things done.
“I am asking you to cast both votes for the SNP on May 6th – and, together, let’s get on with the job of building a country to be proud of.”