Poverty campaigners, faith leaders, academics, children's charities, trade unions, women's groups and industry bodies have written a joint letter to the First Minister pushing for the government to commit to bringing forward the supplement because "kids can't wait".
The Scottish Government is set to update Parliament on its plans to introduce an income supplement to top up the earnings of parents on low incomes in a statement to MSPs on Wednesday (26 June).
The supplement is currently not due to be introduced until 2022, but campaigners say that is too far away for families living in poverty, and want to see legislation included in the next Programme for Government and an interim version to be delivered ahead of legislation being passed.
Research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Institute for Public Policy Research Scotland has found that the equivalent of one classroom of children a day – a school a month – are being pulled into poverty in Scotland. The Scottish Government's own forecasts suggest that without action, the child poverty rate will rise to 35 per cent by 2020/21. This will mean that ministers will fail to meet targets set in the Child Poverty Act unless more urgent and ambitious action is taken.
240,000 children live in poverty in Scotland and campaigners say that they should not be forced to wait until 2022 for the valuable lifeline that the income supplement can provide.
Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Rt Rev Colin Sinclair said:
"In a caring society we need to ensure that everyone is protected. The way we look after our children is a key indicator of how well we are putting our values into practice. Delivering the income supplement before 2022 would go a long way to put our words into deeds and would make a significant difference for many families today."
Anti-poverty activist and lone parent of four children, Kerrie Friel said:
"Too many families are being swept up in the rising tide of poverty, struggling to pay bills and put food on the table. The new income supplement will be a lifeline for families desperate to stay afloat, but we need it now. Kids can't wait."
Chief Executive of national charity Children in Scotland, Jackie Brock, said:
"The level of poverty many families are experiencing in Scotland in 2019 is an affront to our society's shared instincts about fairness, justice and equality. It must not be tolerated.
"Harsh austerity policies pursued by UK governments over the last nine years have been the major driving force behind this. However, the Scottish Government has the power to act now and stop further increases in child poverty. It needs to be bolder and more ambitious if it is to meet its own targets laid out in the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act.
"Early implementation of the family income supplement would make a crucial difference to children and families across Scotland, and would demonstrate that what UN rapporteur on extreme poverty Philip Alston has described as the 'principles of dignity and social security as a human right' are alive in Scotland."
Signatories to the letter include Business in the Community Scotland, The Poverty Alliance, The Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Bishop William Nolan, President of the Scottish Unitarian Association, Royal College of Paediatrics, IPPR Scotland, Citizens Advice Scotland, Scottish Women's Aid, Inclusion Scotland, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Children in Scotland, NSPCC, Children 1st, Child Poverty Action Group, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Queen's Nursing Institute Scotland, Educational Institute Scotland, Deep End GP Group, Scottish Youth Parliament, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, NASUWT, Oxfam Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, Aberlour, Voluntary Health Scotland, the Scottish Association of Social Work, Health and Social Care Alliance, Scottish Directors of Public Health and thirteen leading academics.
Dear First Minister,
Ahead of the Scottish Government's statement on Wednesday on the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, we have come together to urge you to bring forward the introduction of the income supplement for low income families from the current delivery date of 2022.
All of our organisations strongly welcome the Scottish Government's commitment to the income supplement, and we share your belief in the need to use Scotland's social security powers to loosen the grip of poverty on people's lives.
However, as you will know, child poverty projections for the coming years are stark. The Scottish Government's own forecasts show that, without action, the child poverty rate is projected to rise to 35% by 2020/21. We will fail to meet the targets set by the Child Poverty Act unless more urgent and ambitious action is taken.
It is the firmly-held belief of our organisations that the urgent delivery of the income supplement must be one such action. The 240,000 children living in poverty in our communities across Scotland cannot wait until 2022 for the valuable lifeline that the income supplement can provide. For families in the grip of poverty right now who are struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table, 2022 is simply too far away. Families urgently need the anchor of the income supplement to prevent them from being pulled further into poverty.
This is particularly true for women, who are more likely to experience poverty than men. Women's poverty is inextricably interlinked with child poverty, as women have a disproportionate responsibility for caring for children and account for 91% of lone parents.
We are therefore writing to you to urge that the statement this week commits to four key actions:
We recognise that the safe and secure delivery of devolved social security entitlements is a priority for the Scottish Government. But with the equivalent of one classroom of children a day – a school a month – being pulled into poverty in Scotland, we cannot afford to wait.
If we want to live in a Scotland where every child really does have every chance, we must act sooner than 2022. The statement on Wednesday offers the opportunity to make that happen, and we urge you to seize it.
Peter Kelly, Director, Poverty Alliance
Satwat Rehman, Director, One Parent Families Scotland
Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland
SallyAnn Kelly, CEO, Aberlour
Jim McCormick, Associate Director for Scotland, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
John Dickie, Director, CPAG in Scotland
Russell Gunson, Director, IPPR Scotland
Hugh Foy, Director of Programmes, The Xaverian Missionaries UK Province
Marie Ward, Chief Executive Officer, Cranhill Development Trust
Lucy Mulvagh, Director of Policy and Communications, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE)
Marsha Scott, CEO, Scottish Women's Aid
Shaben Begum, Director, Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance
Faye Keogh, Policy & Business Development Officer, Turning Point Scotland
Bill Scott, Director of Policy, Inclusion Scotland
Ian Morrison, Chief Executive, Whiteinch & Scotstoun Housing Association Ltd
Dr Sharon Wright, Senior Lecturer in Public Policy, University of Glasgow
Craig Samuel, Scotland Representative, National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers
Frank Mosson, Bureau Manager, Bridgeton Citizens Advice Bureau
Tracy Gilmour, Warrior Mum Project & North Ayrshire Fair for All Commissioner
Anna Fowlie, Chief Executive, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO)
Betty Stevenson, Convenor, Edinburgh Tenants Federation
Janis McDonald, Chief Officer, deafscotland
Liz McEntee, Director for External Affairs, GCVS
Anna Ritchie Allan, Executive Director, Close the Gap
Derek Mitchell, CEO, Citizens Advice Scotland
Kate Wimpress, Chair, SURF – Scotland's Regeneration Forum
Nasreen Ali, Chair, Crookston Community Group
Jackie Brock, Chief Executive, Children in Scotland
Professor Clare Cable, Chief Executive and Nurse Director, Queen's Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS)
Dr Hartwig Pautz, Lecturer in Social Sciences, University of the West of Scotland
Professor Chik Collins, University of the West of Scotland
Professor Mhairi Mackenzie, Professor of Public Policy, University of Glasgow
Pete Ritchie, Executive Director, Nourish Scotland
Dr Julie Clark, Senior Lecturer in Sociology & Public Policy, University of the West of Scotland
Claire Stevens, Chief Executive, Voluntary Health Scotland
Dr Gerry McCartney, Consultant in Public Health
Alistair Brown, National Director, Scottish Association of Social Work
Joanna McCreadie, Chair, Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland's Committee on Care and Support for Young People
Bishop William Nolan, Bishop of Galloway and President of Justice and Peace Scotland
Honor Hania, Chair, Justice and Peace Scotland
Clare Simpson, Manager, Parenting Across Scotland
Mary Glasgow, Chief Executive, Children 1st
Alan Thornburrow, Director, Business in the Community Scotland
Professor Steve Turner, Scottish Officer, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
Professor John McKendrick, Co-Director of the Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit, Glasgow Caledonian University
Larry Flanagan, General Secretary, Educational Institute of Scotland
The Scottish Health Promotion Managers Group
Dr Anne Mullin, Chair on behalf of the Deep End GP Group
Suki Wan MSYP, Chair, Scottish Youth Parliament
David Walsh, Public Health Programme Manager, Glasgow Centre for Population Health
Claire Telfer, Head of Scotland, Save the Children
Professor Adrian Sinfield, Professor Emeritus of Social Policy, University of Edinburgh
Dr Morag Treanor, Professor of Child and Family Inequalities, Heriot-Watt University
Fiona Forsyth, Trustee, CPAG
Mike Dailly, Solicitor Advocate, Govan Law Centre
Professor Stephen Sinclair, Co-Director of Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit, Glasgow Caledonian University
Matt Forde, National Head of Service, NSPCC Scotland
Dr Andrew Fraser, Chair, Scottish Directors of Public Health
Rt Rev Colin Sinclair, Moderator of the Church of Scotland
Joan M.M Cook, President of the Scottish Unitarian Association
Rev May-Kane Logan, Chair of the Congregational Federation in Scotland
Sally Thomas, Chief Executive, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
Paul Carberry, Director, Action for Children Scotland
Professor Nancy Loucks OBE, Chief Executive, Families Outside
Ewan Aitken, CEO, Cyrenians
Emma Ritch, Executive Director, Engender
Professor Jennifer Davidson, Executive Director, Centre for Excellence for Children's Care and Protection (CELCIS) and Inspiring Children's Futures, University of Strathclyde
David Eiser, Research Fellow, Fraser of Allander Institute
Chris Keates, General Secretary, NASUWT, The Teacher's Union
Norman Kerr OBE, Director, Energy Action Scotland
Lieut Colonel Carol Bailey, Secretary for Scotland, The Salvation Army
Mary Anne MacLeod, Research and Policy Officer, Menu for Change
Expert analysis from the respected Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank has shown that it is possible to introduce the Income Supplement by 2021.
Projections show poverty is set to increase by over 50,000 children between 2017/2018 and 2023/24, which is 25 children a day.
Child poverty projections for Scotland independently produced by Howard Reed at Landman Economics and Graham Start at Virtual Worlds for the Scottish Government Research.