Scotland - A European Pioneer. Social Solidarity. Scottish Child Payment. Scottish Independence Podcasts

Social Solidarity: Scottish Child Payment

Social Solidarity: Scottish Child Payment

Scotland - A European Pioneer. Social Solidarity. Scottish Child Payment. Scottish Independence Podcasts

Who Benefits?

Each child aged under 16 in Scotland is entitled to £25 a week on top of a qualifying welfare benefit, such as universal credit or income support. The child payment was introduced in 2021 and is one of seven welfare benefits specific to Scotland. It was raised to £25 last November. In 2023/24 it’s estimated to cost ScotGov £405 million.

So far 316,000 children have benefited from the payment. A four-child family receiving those qualifying benefits is entitled to £5,200 a year that is not available to peers in England.

What it enables families to do:

For one single mother the cash payment of £25 a week has proved to be a lifeline during the UK’s cost of living crisis. It has enabled her to afford packed lunches for her son, who rejects school meals because of his autism, and travel to her job as a catering assistant.

“It has really helped just for me to be able to get to work and make sure that my little boy had everything when I was at work…..It has definitely been a lifesaver.”

FT: How £25 payment is turning Scotland into a European pioneer in reducing child poverty

A Game-Changer for Scotland?

Danny Dorling, a professor of geography at Oxford university, said the child payment would lower the Gini coefficient, a statistical measure of inequality, for children in Scotland to 0.25 this year, from 0.33 before the support was increased to £25 in November.

“This might not sound like a large shift, but it moves Scotland from being one of the most unequal places to live in Europe for a child to being one of the most equal — in just 12 months.”

Danny Dorling, Oxford Univ

And the Joseph Rowntree Foundation agree with him…

The rollout of the Scottish Child Payment is a watershed moment for tackling poverty in Scotland, and the rest of the UK should take notice.

At £1,300 per child, per year it will be a welcome boost to family budgets that are stretched to breaking point already.

It is not just a cost of living crisis measure, it’s an enduring investment in our children.

The money is reducing deprivation among Scottish children to levels below the rest of the UK. And the initiative could act as a model for cash disbursements in combating poverty globally.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Child Poverty in Scotland already dropping faster than England & Wales

Data from the Welsh government showed that England had the highest child poverty rate in 2020-22 at 31 per cent, compared with 24 per cent in Scotland and 28 per cent in Wales. Northern Ireland’s rate was 22 per cent. (Child is defined as under-16.) This divergence is expected to widen further due to the child payments and other Scotland-specific welfare policies.

Scotland - A European Pioneer. Social Solidarity. Scottish Child Payment. Scottish Independence Podcasts
Scotland - A European Pioneer. Social Solidarity. Scottish Child Payment. Scottish Independence Podcasts

Why aren’t more people talking about the Child Payment?

Few people outside of Scotland are aware of the bold policy intervention. That was said by Liz Ditchburn, an honorary professor at the Adam Smith Business School at Glasgow University.

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve mentioned the Scottish Child Payment to colleagues and friends elsewhere in the UK and been told they’ve never heard of it.

Liz Ditchburn

She has written a very informative piece in the Nesta Blog It she quotes from ScotGov’s own evaluation of its impacts so far. Here are a couple of compelling quotes from parents who receive it:

 It did lessen my worries quite a lot to be honest.  Money’s the one thing I’m always stressing about, always thinking about, always worrying about. It was a relief to have that extra boost.  (Parent 22, age 18-24, care-experienced, 3+ children) 

It helps with not having to stress out because you know it’s coming. When I get stressed, I don’t sleep. I don’t deal well with stress. I don’t want the kids to see me stressed. (Parent 18, age 25-34, single parent)”    

ScotGov Interim Evaluation

Scottish Child Payment is a good start. But do we need to do more? Yes.

  • Child Poverty Action Group expressed disappointment at lack of further detail on First Minister’s pledge to increase Scottish Child Payment to £30. He made that pledge during his leadership campaign. They also say that the child payment needs to increase to at least £40 for Scotland to meet its interim child poverty target.
  • Magic Breakfast, a UK-wide group that provides breakfast clubs, are not happy that ScotGov have not yet implemented a pledge, made in 2020, to provide free morning meals to all primary school children. They have a costed proposal for how to meet that commitment. And they reckon the £27 million they estimate it would cost to deliver breakfast is an affordable figure for ScotGov.

More actions like those will only serve to strengthen social solidarity in Scotland.

We can also learn from our northern European neighbours. Recently we spoke to Lesley Riddoch about her new documentary Denmark. You can watch the film here.

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