First minister Nicola Sturgeon is being urged to introduce a planned income supplement for low income families sooner than is currently intended.
Charities, academies, trade unions and campaign groups have all joined forces to say that 2022, the scheduled introduction date for the supplement, is too far in the future and will leave thousands of families across Scotland struggling to make ends meet in the meantime.
On that basis, a group of 70 signatories have put their names to a letter calling on Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish government to urgently reconsider their timetable for the income supplement.
The group expressed strong support for the supplement itself, saying that it would be a very valuable financial lifeline for tens of thousands of families and children who currently live in poverty across Scotland.
However, the point was also made very clearly in the letter that action on the issue of poverty and particularly child poverty needs to be taken sooner rather than later.
Peter Kelly from the Poverty Alliance said in a statement that urgent action is needed to address the issue of child poverty across the country, saying that “the equivalent of one classroom of children a day are being pulled into poverty in Scotland”.
Sally Ann Kelly, chief executive of the children’s charity Aberlour, said: “Waiting until 2022 is too late for many families who are struggling now and the 240,000 children living in poverty.
“Working with families across Scotland every day we see how many of them are at risk of falling deeper into financial hardship and being exposed to the worst effects of poverty and related toxic stress.”
Speaking on behalf of the government, communities secretary Aileen Campbell said that a fund of £50 million has been set aside to help ensure that child poverty targets are met in the coming years.
The government has also recently announced the introduction of a new fund to help cover out-of-school childcare costs for parents across Scotland as part of its child poverty reduction strategy.
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The food bank operator Trussell Trust has published a new report highlighting the extent to which the UK is experiencing an ongoing poverty crisis.
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) has published a new report outlining the extent of the financial and debt-related challenges that many thousands of people are facing in Scotland and across the UK.
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