Scottish Child Payment (Aberdeen)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 28 March 2024.

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Photo of Kevin Stewart Kevin Stewart Scottish National Party

7. To ask the Scottish Government how many children in Aberdeen have been lifted out of poverty since the inception of the Scottish child payment. (S6O-03290)

Photo of Paul McLennan Paul McLennan Scottish National Party

It is estimated that the Scottish child payment will keep 60,000 children out of poverty in 2024-25. The impact cannot be broken down by local authority area. However, published statistics show that more than 327,000 children in low-income families were receiving the Scottish child payment in December 2023, and more than 10,000 of those children were in Aberdeen city. Since the Scottish child payment was launched, payments that total more than £570 million have been made to the families who need them most, and more than £18 million of those payments were to families in Aberdeen city.

Photo of Kevin Stewart Kevin Stewart Scottish National Party

It is gratifying that the Scottish child payment has contributed to 100,000 children in Scotland being lifted out of poverty. Has the Scottish Government discussed with the United Kingdom Government whether it will replicate the scheme south of the border, given that possible Barnett consequentials for Scotland could help us to do even more to lift people out of poverty here?

Photo of Paul McLennan Paul McLennan Scottish National Party

Yes. We have repeatedly called on the UK Government to make key changes to reserved benefits, including the introduction of an essentials guarantee and the reversal of damaging welfare cuts such as the two-child limit. Those steps would lift 40,000 children in Scotland out of poverty next year.

The First Minister wrote to Keir Starmer in January to find ways of working together to tackle poverty, should Labour form the next UK Government. No reply has been received from Labour or the current UK Government, and neither has indicated any intention to match the ambitious anti-poverty measures that are being taken here in Scotland.

Photo of Paul O'Kane Paul O'Kane Labour

The minister rightly points to the impact of the Scottish child payment but, given last week’s poverty and inequality statistics and his Government’s budgetary decisions, which include slashing the housing and employability budgets, does he accept what the Institute for Public Policy Research, Save the Children and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have said, which is that the interim poverty targets are at risk of being missed or are going to be missed? Does he agree with those experts?

Photo of Paul McLennan Paul McLennan Scottish National Party

We will continue to do all within our powers to reduce child poverty while mitigating the impact of the ingrained austerity of successive UK Governments. I come back to the point that I mentioned in my answer to Kevin Stewart—we have written to Keir Starmer about what he is currently saying, but we have had no answers back. [

Interruption

.]

Photo of Paul McLennan Paul McLennan Scottish National Party

Another point is very important—in contrast, for example, the UK Government scrapped its child poverty target in 2016 and has continued its campaign of austerity. If Paul O’Kane wants to compare records, I note that children’s groups, along with the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, criticised the Labour-run Welsh Government in January for failing to set targets.

The Presiding Officer:

That concludes general question time.