By Bob Doris MSP
Today the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, launched the SNP Scottish Government's programme for the forthcoming year. It includes a range of new bills to improve the lives of people right across Scotland. You can read about the full range of new legislation planned at https://www.gov.scot/programme-for-government/
As part of the debate, I was pleased to ask the First Minister about the new Scottish Child Payment. Starting next year, this will see an extra £10 per child, per week, for the poorest families. And, its all in addition to child benefit. This policy shows the stark contrast with the UK Government. Universal Credit, disability assessments and a benefits freeze have hurt Scotland's most needy citizens the most.
I fully support the First Minister when she says "This is one of the most important things that the Government is doing. It is going to make a big difference to kids the length and breadth of Scotland." I echo the First Minister's call for MSPs across all parties to get behind this change, and the improvements it will bring to their constituents
You can read my question and the First Minister's reply below (or watch the video)
Bob Doris MSP:
I welcome that the poorest families, including those in Maryhill and Springburn, will receive an additional £500 per child, and that the first payments for under-sixes will be delivered by Christmas next year. Will the First Minister provide further details about the welcome acceleration of that policy commitment? Will that commitment require the co-operation of the UK Government to ensure smooth delivery so that those who most need that cash will get it as soon as possible?
The First Minister:
In relation to that, as in other aspects of our social security programme because of a range of factors, we need the co-operation of the UK Government, so we are in close contact with it and are counting on it to continue to give that co-operation.
As Aileen Campbell set out before recess, when she announced the new Scottish child payment, we required to do some further work on delivery over the summer. We have done a considerable amount of that work and are now confident that we can introduce the first tranche of the payment to children under six by Christmas next year. Applications will open in the autumn of next year, with the first payments being made before Christmas. That is a positive step.
We should remember that 60 per cent of all children who live in poverty live in a household in which there is a child aged under six, so the policy will make a huge difference. When it is fully rolled out, more than 400,000 children, which is more than a third of all children in our country, will benefit from it. It has the potential to lift 30,000 children out of poverty.
In fact, this is one of the most important things that the Government is doing, and I hope that those who have called for it, and those who have opposed it, will now get behind it because it is going to make a big difference to kids the length and breadth of Scotland.