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Letter on child poverty for First Minister


Letter, child poverty, First Minister, 70 signatories, kids can't wait, new income supplement Kids can’t wait for new income supplement: we must act sooner than 2022.

More than 70 leaders and organisations and academics from Scottish society have joined together to call on the First Minister to speed up the introduction of a new income supplement to tackle child poverty.

Women’s groups, poverty campaigners, faith leaders, academics, children’s charities, trade unions, and industry bodies have written a joint letter to the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, pushing for the government to commit to bringing forward the supplement on the grounds that “kids can’t wait”.

The Scottish government is set to update Parliament on its plans to introduce an income supplement to top up the earnings of parents on low incomes in a statement to MSPs on 26 June.

That supplement is currently not due to be introduced until 2022, but campaigners say that is too far away for families living in poverty, and they want to see legislation included in the next Programme for Government – and an interim version to be delivered ahead of legislation being passed.

Research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Institute for Public Policy Research Scotland has found that the equivalent of one classroom of children a day – a school a month – are being pulled into poverty in Scotland.

Analysis from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank has shown that it is possible to introduce the Income Supplement by 2021.

The Scottish government’s own forecasts suggest that without action, the child poverty rate will rise to 35 per cent by 2020/21.

This will mean that ministers will fail to meet targets set in the Child Poverty Act unless more urgent and ambitious action is taken.

Today 240,000 children live in poverty in Scotland and campaigners say that they should not be forced to wait until 2022 for the valuable lifeline that the income supplement can provide.

The letter runs:

Dear First Minister,

Ahead of the Scottish Government’s statement on Wednesday on the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, we have come together to urge you to bring forward the introduction of the income supplement for low income families from the current delivery date of 2022.

All of our organisations strongly welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to the income supplement, and we share your belief in the need to use Scotland’s social security powers to loosen the grip of poverty on people’s lives.

However, as you will know, child poverty projections for the coming years are stark. The Scottish Government’s own forecasts show that, without action, the child poverty rate is projected to rise to 35 per cent by 2020/21. We will fail to meet the targets set by the Child Poverty Act unless more urgent and ambitious action is taken.

It is the firmly-held belief of our organisations that the urgent delivery of the income supplement must be one such action. The 240,000 children living in poverty in our communities across Scotland cannot wait until 2022 for the valuable lifeline that the income supplement can provide. For families in the grip of poverty right now who are struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table, 2022 is simply too far away. Families urgently need the anchor of the income supplement to prevent them from being pulled further into poverty.

This is particularly true for women, who are more likely to experience poverty than men. Women’s poverty is inextricably interlinked with child poverty, as women have a disproportionate responsibility for caring for children and account for 91 per cent of lone parents.

We are therefore writing to you to urge that the statement this week commits to four key actions:

That legislation for the income supplement will be contained within the next Programme for Government and passed within this parliamentary session.

That the Scottish Government will explore all options for delivering either an interim or streamlined version of the income supplement in advance of the passing of legislation.

That an initial budget for the income supplement is announced as part of the budget process for 2020/21 and any spending review.

That the income supplement be delivered at such a scale as to make substantive progress toward the government’s statutory child poverty targets.

We recognise that the safe and secure delivery of devolved social security entitlements is a priority for the Scottish Government. But with the equivalent of one classroom of children a day – a school a month – being pulled into poverty in Scotland, we cannot afford to wait.

If we want to live in a Scotland where every child really does have every chance, we must act sooner than 2022. The statement on Wednesday offers the opportunity to make that happen, and we urge you to seize it.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Kelly, Director, Poverty Alliance; Satwat Rehman, Director, One Parent Families Scotland; Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland; SallyAnn Kelly, CEO, Aberlour; Jim McCormick, Associate Director for Scotland, Joseph Rowntree Foundation; John Dickie, Director, CPAG in Scotland; Russell Gunson, Director, IPPR Scotland; Hugh Foy, Director of Programmes, The Xaverian Missionaries UK Province; Marie Ward, Chief Executive Officer, Cranhill Development Trust; Lucy Mulvagh, Director of Policy and Communications, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE); Marsha Scott, CEO, Scottish Women’s Aid; Shaben Begum, Director, Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance; Faye Keogh, Policy & Business Development Officer, Turning Point Scotland; Bill Scott, Director of Policy, Inclusion Scotland; Ian Morrison, Chief Executive, Whiteinch & Scotstoun Housing Association Ltd; Dr Sharon Wright, Senior Lecturer in Public Policy, University of Glasgow; Craig Samuel, Scotland Representative, National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers; Frank Mosson, Bureau Manager, Bridgeton Citizens Advice Bureau; Tracy Gilmour, Warrior Mum Project & North Ayrshire Fair for All Commissioner; Anna Fowlie, Chief Executive, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO); Betty Stevenson, Convenor, Edinburgh Tenants Federation; Janis McDonald, Chief Officer, deafscotland; Liz McEntee, Director for External Affairs, GCVS; Anna Ritchie Allan, Executive Director, Close the Gap; Derek Mitchell, CEO, Citizens Advice Scotland; Kate Wimpress, Chair, SURF – Scotland’s Regeneration Forum; Nasreen Ali, Chair, Crookston Community Group; Jackie Brock, Chief Executive, Children in Scotland; Professor Clare Cable, Chief Executive and Nurse Director, Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS); Dr Hartwig Pautz, Lecturer in Social Sciences, University of the West of Scotland; Professor Chik Collins, University of the West of Scotland; Professor Mhairi Mackenzie, Professor of Public Policy, University of Glasgow; Pete Ritchie, Executive Director, Nourish Scotland; Dr Julie Clark, Senior Lecturer in Sociology & Public Policy, University of the West of Scotland; Claire Stevens, Chief Executive, Voluntary Health Scotland; Dr Gerry McCartney, Consultant in Public Health; Alistair Brown, National Director, Scottish Association of Social Work; Joanna McCreadie, Chair, Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland’s Committee on Care and Support for Young People; Bishop William Nolan, Bishop of Galloway and President of Justice and Peace Scotland; Honor Hania, Chair, Justice and Peace Scotland; Clare Simpson, Manager, Parenting Across Scotland; Mary Glasgow, Chief Executive, Children 1st; Alan Thornburrow, Director, Business in the Community Scotland; Professor Steve Turner, Scottish Officer, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health; Professor John McKendrick, Co-Director of the Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit, Glasgow Caledonian University; Larry Flanagan, General Secretary, Educational Institute of Scotland; The Scottish Health Promotion Managers Group; Dr Anne Mullin, Chair on behalf of the Deep End GP Group; Suki Wan MSYP, Chair, Scottish Youth Parliament; David Walsh, Public Health Programme Manager, Glasgow Centre for Population Health; Claire Telfer, Head of Scotland, Save the Children; Professor Adrian Sinfield, Professor Emeritus of Social Policy, University of Edinburgh; Dr Morag Treanor, Professor of Child and Family Inequalities, Heriot-Watt University; Fiona Forsyth, Trustee, CPAG; Mike Dailly, Solicitor Advocate, Govan Law Centre; Professor Stephen Sinclair, Co-Director of Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit, Glasgow Caledonian University; Matt Forde, National Head of Service, NSPCC Scotland; Dr Andrew Fraser, Chair, Scottish Directors of Public Health; Rt Rev Colin Sinclair, Moderator of the Church of Scotland; Joan M.M Cook, President of the Scottish Unitarian Association; Rev May-Kane Logan, Chair of the Congregational Federation in Scotland; Sally Thomas, Chief Executive, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations; Paul Carberry, Director, Action for Children Scotland; Professor Nancy Loucks OBE, Chief Executive, Families Outside; Ewan Aitken, CEO, Cyrenians; Emma Ritch, Executive Director, Engender; Professor Jennifer Davidson, Executive Director, Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection (CELCIS) and Inspiring Children’s Futures, University of Strathclyde; David Eiser, Research Fellow, Fraser of Allander Institute; Chris Keates, General Secretary, NASUWT, The Teacher’s Union; Norman Kerr OBE, Director, Energy Action Scotland; Lieut Colonel Carol Bailey, Secretary for Scotland, The Salvation Army; and Mary Anne MacLeod, Research and Policy Officer, Menu for Change.

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