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Local MSP Michael Russell has praised the launch of a new social benefit designed to lift children across Scotland out of poverty.
By the end of 2022, eligible families in Argyll and Bute will receive an extra £10 a week for every child under 16 – low income families with children under the age of six will be fast tracked and start to receive the benefit in early 2021.
The announcement means eligible families with two children under 16 will receive an additional £1,000 a year to spend on day-to-day essentials from clothing to school equipment.
Once fully rolled out, the payment will benefit up to 410,000 children across Scotland – not only supporting those in poverty and but also preventing those on the breadline from sliding under. There is no cap on the number of children in eligible families.
The announcement has been celebrated by anti-poverty campaigners who have said the new benefit is a ‘gamechanger’.
Commenting, Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell said: ‘This is a radical and very welcome announcement – and it’s exactly what we need if we are to reduce child poverty levels here in Argyll and Bute in the face of ongoing welfare cuts from the UK Tory government.
‘The ambition of this SNP Government to tackle poverty and give our young people from low income backgrounds the very best start in life is clear.
‘I know the new Scottish Child Payment will be a welcome boost to many young families in Argyll and Bute when it’s fully rolled out over the coming years.
‘But the sad reality is, this SNP Government is fighting poverty with one hand tied behind its back – without Westminster imposed austerity this benefit could go further and reach more families.’
John Dickie, Director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, said: ‘This new payment is an absolute game changer in the fight to end child poverty – £10 a week for each child will make a real difference to families struggling to put food on the table, heat their homes and pay for the ordinary school trips, sport and other activities that are fundamental to a decent childhood. Today’s announcement is a landmark recognition of the role the Scottish social security system can play in ending child poverty.’
Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, added: ‘Amid a rising tide of poverty, the new Scottish Child Payment will act as a lifeline for families struggling to stay afloat. An additional £10 per week will help unlock tens of thousands of children from poverty and underlines the important role that Scottish social security powers have to address poverty.’