More than two thirds of people think next month’s Scottish Government budget should be used to double a benefit payment made to poorer families, according to new research for anti-poverty campaigners.
The polling, conducted for the End Child Poverty coalition in Scotland, found that once “don’t knows” were excluded, 68% of people in Scotland support doubling the Scottish Child Payment, a £10-per-week-per-child benefit.
Coalition members said that many families are facing a really difficult winter and that next month’s draft budget is a “golden opportunity” to support them and raise the payment to £20.
The survey, carried out by Survation, found that even when people who responded “don’t know” were included, more than half (57%) of people agreed that the benefit should be doubled.
The Scottish Government has already pledged to increase the payment to £20 within the lifetime of the parliament and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in September that it will happen “sooner rather than later”.
Peter Kelly, director of Poverty Alliance, said: “In Scotland, people believe in protecting one another and in doing the right thing. As this new polling makes clear, they overwhelmingly support taking action now to stem the rising tide of child poverty.
“Children and families living in the grip of poverty right now simply cannot wait. Scottish ministers must listen to people across the country who are calling on them to do the right thing, and double the Scottish Child Payment now.”
The latest poll comes after more than 100 charities, faith groups and trade unions wrote to Finance Secretary Kate Forbes earlier this month urging her to use the upcoming draft budget to double the Scottish Child Payment.
The Scottish Child Payment is currently paid at £10 per week for each child under six in families in receipt of a qualifying benefit such as Universal Credit.
Commenting on the latest poll, Claire Telfer, head of Scotland, Save the Children, said: “We know that many families with young children in Scotland are struggling to make ends meet, parents are going without food or not putting the heating on, to care for their children.
“As a society we can – and must – do better. Next month’s budget is a golden opportunity to act now and support families and drive down poverty by doubling the Scottish Child Payment.”
The poll of 1045 people was carried out in mid-November.
Polly Jones, head of Scotland, Trussell Trust, said: “Families across Scotland are facing a really difficult winter. Right now, food banks in the Trussell Trust network in Scotland are giving out a food parcel every three minutes to people in crisis.
“This isn’t right, especially when we have the power to change this. Doubling the Scottish Child Payment now would be a huge boost to Scotland’s struggling families and I hope ministers will listen to the public and act.”
Other members of the End Child Poverty coalition in Scotland include Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, Children in Scotland, Home Start, Barnardo’s, Children 1st, Oxfam, One Parent Families Scotland and Action for Children.
The Scottish Government is being asked for comment.