The Scottish Government must use its budget to stabilise the income of parents to help it reach its child poverty targets, according to the Scottish Parliament’s Social Justice & Social Security Committee.
A letter from the committee to Shona Robison MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, sets out its unanimously agreed priorities for the 2022-23 Scottish Budget, which focus on tackling child poverty.
Stabilising parental income, the committee believes, would help families who are facing reductions in household incomes as prices rise and COVID-19 support measures, such as the £20 universal credit uplift, are withdrawn by the UK Government.
It highlights three aspects to doing this:
- doubling the Scottish child payment as soon as possible;
- improving access to childcare;
- providing further employment support.
The committee heard a lot of support for the doubling of the Scottish child payment. Organisations who gave evidence explained that this would play a critical role in helping the Scottish Government work towards its child poverty targets.
As regards improved childcare support, the committee cites the example of a parent who spends more than they earn to send their two children to nursery three days a week.
The MSPs also raise concerns around the sustainability of anti-poverty measures and social security budget in the long term. They call on Government departments to work together to reduce the potential long term demands on the social security budget.
Committee convener Neil Gray MSP commented: "The importance of helping parents with their finances was a key theme of the evidence the committee heard.
"While there has been a massive expansion in free childcare provision by the Scottish Government, we want to see further expansion prioritised in this budget. We are particularly aware that women and people with disabilities face challenges finding good employment opportunities and suitable childcare.
"We are pleased that the Scottish Government has stated that it would like to address some of these issues. However, given the urgency for some families with the withdrawal of the universal credit uplift, we would like them to outline their plans in detail in this year’s budget."