‘Nearly half’ of families with children struggling in pandemic

IPPR Scotland found 49% of families with dependent children are in 'serious financial difficulty'.

‘Nearly half’ of families with children struggling in pandemic Pixabay

Nearly half of families with children in Scotland are struggling to make ends meet during the coronavirus crisis, according to new analysis.

Using the Standard Life Foundation’s Covid-19 Financial Impact Tracker, IPPR Scotland found 49% of families with dependent children are in “serious financial difficulty”.

The figure equates to 300,000 households, with 30% of all households in Scotland reporting the same struggle.

Around 36% of family households with children in Scotland said they are potentially exposed, while just 15% claim to be financially secure.

‘The scale of financial difficulties facing families with children in Scotland is truly shocking.’

Russell Gunson, IPPR Scotland director

Russell Gunson, IPPR Scotland director, has called on the Scottish and UK governments to do more, and he urged the devolved administration at Holyrood to provide lump sum payments of £250 per child to low-income families this summer.

He said: “The scale of financial difficulties facing families with children in Scotland is truly shocking.

“Nearly half of them are in financial trouble, and one in five are facing serious financial difficulties, meaning they are likely to be struggling to pay for food or essential bills.

“The Covid-19 crisis is affecting everyone, but when it comes to the financial impact on families, it’s not hitting everyone equally.”

The body is also calling on the UK Government to increase the child supplements paid through Universal Credit by £10 per week and provide a £5 uplift in child benefit as the pandemic continues.

Mr Gunson added: “The UK Government must now consider additional support to families through the social security system.

“And while the Scottish Government has moved to provide some welcome additional support to people in crisis, it’s been forced to delay the Scottish Child Payment due to Covid-19.

“They must now look at what more can be done to urgently get families and children the help they need here in Scotland.

“The scale of this crisis is huge and we’re moving into a crisis which is both an economic one and a health one.

“The Scottish and UK governments must now do everything they can to support those that need it the most.”

On Wednesday, more than 100 organisations penned an open letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urging her to make additional payments to help Scotland’s poorest families.

They included children’s charities, faith groups, academics, think-tanks, poverty campaigners and trade unions.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We understand that this is difficult time for many families.

“That is why we are working on introducing the new Scottish Child Payment and will be paying carers in receipt of Carers Allowance an additional supplement this year.

“We have committed £350m of additional funding to support those most at risk, including more than doubling the Scottish Welfare Fund with £45m of new investment and over £100m to local authorities, with £30m targeted at food insecurity – investment which is supporting over 150,000 children to access Free School Meals.

“It is now vital that the UK Government match our efforts given that income replacement benefits are still reserved to Westminster.

“They need to reverse their welfare cuts which are now hitting harder than ever.

“This includes the benefit cap, bedroom tax, and two child limit, for which we have continually called for change, as well as make fundamental alterations to Universal Credit to ensure it works for people.”

A UK Government spokesman said: “We are committed to supporting people through these unprecedented times – as well as providing opportunities and tackling the root causes of poverty.

“For those most in need, we’ve injected more than £6.5bn into the welfare system, including an increase to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits of up to £1040 a year.”