FIRST POSTED ON AUGUST 26 2020 AT 15:27
Includem welcomes the announcement by Scottish Government that the Scottish Child Payment will be rolled out in February of next year. However, with nearly 1 in 4 children in poverty before the pandemic and more families falling into poverty since, we strongly believe February is too far away for many children.
We know that those who were already in poverty are disproportionately disadvantaged by the measures put in place to manage the spread of Covid-19. They will take even longer to recover, if at all.
The families we work with experience entrenched and persistent poverty. They often find themselves in overcrowded accommodation, unable to move to something more suitable due to rent arrears or there being no appropriate housing in their area of choice. These families are far from the job market and solely reliant on benefits. These benefits are subject to caps and sanctions and the system itself is difficult to negotiate. Many of our families tell us that they got into debt at points of entering education or employment because they have not understood the rules or their obligations on what and when they have needed to tell to manage their benefits.
A recent survey of social workers by the Child Poverty Action Group showed that poverty and the resulting stress and strain makes it difficult to support families make meaningful changes. Our experience also tells us that it paralyses many of our families when it comes to resolving issues with their benefits or other debts. Our families have a very real fear of the brown envelope and many just don’t open them!
While the Scottish Child Payment is welcome, includem would urge the Government to do more.
Includem sees and works every day with young people and families suffering from the bane of entrenched poverty. Waiting to enact legislation and payments has a disproportionate effect on these families and drives them further into poverty and despair. Article 27 of the UNCRC enshrines the right for children to have a standard of living that is good enough to meet their physical and social needs and support their development. We are not meeting our obligations.
No one measure will suffice, a concentrated and systematic effort is required, not just commitment but execution of a plan that truly gets it right for every child – right now we are failing one in four.
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