The First Minister
The Scottish Government
St Andrew’s House
Dear First Minister,
Ahead of Wednesday’s update to the Scottish Parliament, 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 shows that without action, the child poverty rate is projected to rise to 35% by 2030. 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.
We are therefore writing to you to urge that the statement this week commits to four key actions:
• That legislation for the income supplement will be contained within the next Programme for Government and passed within this parliamentary session.
• That the Scottish Government will explore all options for delivering either an interim or streamlined version of the income supplement in advance of the passing of legislation.
• That an initial budget for the income supplement is announced as part of the budget process for 2020/21 and any spending review.
• That the income supplement be delivered at such a scale as to make substantive progress toward the government’s statutory child poverty targets.
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. The statement on Wednesday offers the opportunity to make that happen, and we urge you to seize it.