The SNP has called on the UK Government to “match the ambition of the Scottish Child Payment UK-wide” by raising the child element of universal credit by £25 a week.
Ahead of Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf convening a cross-party anti-poverty summit in Edinburgh on Wednesday, the party’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn warned Westminster policies are “making people poorer and undermining progress on tackling poverty in Scotland”.
He urged the UK Government to introduce a comprehensive package of measures to reverse child poverty across the UK including: raising the child element of universal credit by £25 a week UK-wide, scrapping the benefit cap, introducing a Real Living Wage and setting statutory targets to eliminate child poverty.
The latest OECD figures show the UK has the worst levels of poverty of any country in north-west Europe, with a higher poverty rate than all of the UK’s European neighbours including Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
The Scottish Child Payment, paid to eligible poorer families, was increased from £10 to £25 per child per week in November.
It has been heralded as “game-changing” by poverty campaigners, but Scottish Government data released in March indicates 24% of children are still in poverty.
Flynn said: “Tackling poverty is a defining mission of the SNP government but for every step Scotland takes forward to eradicate poverty, Westminster is taking us back again.
“While progressive SNP policies like the Scottish Child Payment are putting money into people’s pockets and reducing inequality, damaging Westminster policies are making people poorer and undermining progress on tackling poverty in Scotland.
“The SNP Scottish Government will always accept its responsibility to use the restricted powers it has to reduce poverty – but for as long as Scotland remains under Westminster control, the UK government must take its responsibilities seriously too.”
He added: “Rishi Sunak must introduce a comprehensive package of support to reverse poverty – including matching the ambition of the Scottish Child Payment UK-wide by raising the child element of universal credit by £25 a week and scrapping the benefit cap.
“And he must follow the Scottish Government’s lead by introducing statutory targets to eliminate child poverty – or the UK will continue to languish with one of the worst levels of poverty among our European neighbours.”
A UK Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to eradicating poverty and have helped nearly two million people out of absolute poverty since 2010, including 400,000 children.
“We recognise the pressures of the rising cost of living which is why we have provided record levels of direct financial support, including £1,350 for those most in need.
“Benefits have also risen by over 10% and the National Living Wage has increased by more than 9%.”
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