Nappies (Cost)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 22 February 2024.

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Photo of Monica Lennon Monica Lennon Labour

8. To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking through the delivery of benefits to help families with the cost of nappies, in light of the reported increase in nappy theft linked to the cost of living crisis. (S6O-03109)

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

We want to give children the best start in life and we are using our new social security powers to make that happen.

Our game-changing Scottish child payment, which is available only in Scotland, provides £25 a week to low-income families for each eligible child, and the best start grant pregnancy and baby payment helps with the expenses associated with pregnancy or with having a new child. Families are able to use those payments to best meet their needs, which could include buying nappies.

Subject to parliamentary approval, we will increase those payments—and indeed all social security payments—by 6.7 per cent from April 2024.

Photo of Monica Lennon Monica Lennon Labour

Notwithstanding the support that is available, we know that being unable to afford essential baby items is a reality for too many of our constituents. Nappy rationing is a horrible reality for many families and has a devastating impact on babies, children and parents.

The environmental benefits of reusable nappies are well known. They can also save families significant amounts of money, but the up-front costs can be a barrier. Scotland’s baby box gives families the opportunity to try reusable nappies, but the opt-in for that is quite low, at around 14 per cent. Will the cabinet secretary outline the ways in which the Government can come to understand that low uptake, raise awareness and make it easier for people to use such reusable products?

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

I begin by recognising Monica Lennon’s long-standing work on the issue. She is right to point out that the baby box raises awareness of the benefits of reusable nappies, as well as providing a nappy voucher. Provision of that voucher is intended to help families to start using reusable nappies free of charge and also signposts families to the Scottish Government’s Parent Club website, which highlights the benefits of using reusable nappies and provides helpful advice and tips about nappy use.

The James Hutton Institute has commissioned research into the barriers to re-using nappies. The final report is expected by the end of March and I will be happy to ensure that I, or other ministers, provide that information to Monica Lennon if she does not have it to hand when the report is published.

I also ask Ms Lennon to join our calls on the United Kingdom Government for an essentials guarantee. It is not acceptable in this day and age and in this country to have benefit levels that do not allow people to buy the bare essentials of life. Whether those are nappies or baby formula, they are exactly the products that people should not be rationing, which is why this Government has asked for an essentials guarantee. I am disappointed that we have had no reply or commitment on that from the UK Government.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

That concludes portfolio questions on social justice. There will be a brief pause before the next item of business in order to allow front bench speakers to change over.