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Meeting child poverty targets 'would cost almost £1bn a year'

A report has recommended fast-tracking the new benefit to help bring families off the breadline.

Action: Child poverty affects 240,000 youngsters in Scotland (file pic).
Action: Child poverty affects 240,000 youngsters in Scotland (file pic).

Meeting Scotland's child poverty targets could cost almost £1bn a year, a report has suggested.

However, the study went on to state that more "modest" payments of just £10 a week could make a real difference to struggling families.

With poverty levels rising, ministers have been told there needs to be a "clear sense of urgency" in tackling the problem.

Think tanks IPPR Scotland and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), who collaborated on the report, said plans for a new benefit to help low-income families could be a "golden opportunity" in the fight against child poverty - which affects 240,000 youngsters across the country.

The Scottish Government has already committed to bringing in an income supplement for low-income families.

But the think tanks said the pledge to "make progress" on this by 2022 was not fast enough.

A new briefing paper from the organisations insisted that payments "should begin soon rather than in several years' time, even if this means starting on a smaller scale and expanding".

The organisations said: "We can't put children's lives on hold, and we must act quickly to stem the tide.

"Scotland is at a precipice. Either it allows child poverty to rise as it is expected to do across the UK, or it uses the powers the Scottish Parliament now has to take a different path.

"Social security is one of the most powerful and direct tools that the Scottish Parliament has. It is vital that the Scottish Government use it to its best effect."

https://stv.tv/news/scotland/1436494-warning-as-child-poverty-risks-reaching-20-year-high/ | default

IPPR Scotland has already warned that without action, 50,000 more youngsters will be forced to live in poverty by 2023-24.

At the same time, the Scottish Government has passed legislation committing ministers to reducing the proportion of youngsters in relative poverty to 18% by then.

To achieve that, the report estimated about 100,000 children would have to be removed from poverty - saying this would require making payments of up to £150 a month to those in need, at a cost of £950m a year.

Payments of up to £50 a month would lift about 45,000 youngsters from poverty, at a cost of around £390m a year, while increasing payments to up to £100 a month would take 65,000 children out of poverty but would cost £600m a year.

The think tanks said poorer families had told them "even a modest increase - of £10 a week per child - would begin to make a difference to family budgets, for example allowing them to buy better food, replace children's basic clothing and say yes to occasional school trips or birthday activities".

Communities secretary Aileen Campbell said the report "highlights the damaging impact of the UK Government's welfare cuts on families and the complexities involved in introducing an income supplement".

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