Campaigners call for emergency cash boost to prevent child poverty crisis

  • Over 100 organisations and academics sign letter to First Minister
  • “Grave concern” regarding impact of crisis on family incomes and children’s wellbeing

UNISON Scotland has joined over 100 children’s charities, faith groups, academics, think tanks, poverty campaigners and trade unions in writing an open letter to the First Minister today calling for a direct financial boost for all families living on low incomes to support them through the coronavirus crisis.

The letter expresses “grave concern” that families across Scotland are struggling to stay afloat through the crisis, and that her government’s progress on tackling child poverty is being put at huge risk.

Signatories include the STUC, Scottish Women’s Aid, Scottish Association for Mental Health, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, IPPR, Barnardo’s, Poverty Alliance, Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland and One Parent Families Scotland. They say that a payment equivalent to at least £10 per week per child is needed to provide families “a lifeline now to help them weather the storm.”

The letter highlights the impact of the coronavirus crisis on low income families, particularly on those already at greater risk of poverty, such as lone parent households. The organisations behind it say the families they work with “are reporting increased financial stress and associated anxiety, loneliness, and more complex mental health problems,” and that the charitable hardship funds many of them operate have come under massively increased pressure. Aberlour’s Urgent Assistance Fund alone has, they say, seen a 1400% increase in demand.

The groups urge the First Minster to use “every tool at your government’s disposal to deliver an emergency package of financial support to all low income families”.

They set out a range of ideas for delivering the payment. Options include new or increased Best Start grants, an increased school clothing grant, additional investment in the Scottish Welfare Fund to provide a ‘coronavirus crisis grant,’ topping up UK children’s benefits and the use of local government powers. They also say additional targeted support could be delivered through increases to discretionary housing payments and Best Start Food payments.

Commenting on the letter John Dickie, Director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, one of the signatories, said:

“Families are already being pulled under by the financial impact of coronavirus, undermining children’s education, health and life chances, and putting progress on child poverty at real risk. It’s right that government at every level should use every power at its disposal to provide an anchor of financial security through these extraordinary times. Boosting family incomes now is vital to shore up the foundations on which the recovery from coronavirus can be built and future progress on child poverty made.”

SallyAnn Kelly, CEO of Aberlour said:

“We urgently need to get money directly to the thousands of struggling families across Scotland who are being pushed, or falling further, into poverty as a result of coronavirus. Families already at breaking point are struggling to put food on their tables or to meet the basic needs for them and their children, and so we are calling on the Scottish Government to take immediate action and use all the measures available to them to get money to those families most in need.”

Claire Telfer, Head of Scotland at Save the Children said:

“All children should be safe, warm, fed and able to play and learning during this crisis and beyond. But, the financial strain on families risks children’s wellbeing now and in the future. Far too many families are struggling to keep afloat – not knowing how they will pay for their next meal or pay their bills. We are concerned the number of children in poverty could soar as a result of the crisis. Emergency support through the Wellbeing Fund and other support from government has been very welcome. It’s not enough to fully protect families. Families need predictable, consistent and sustainable financial support. That is why we are calling for a cash first response for families with children.”


You can read the full letter here

Full list of signatories to the letter:

  1. SallyAnn Kelly, CEO Aberlour
  2. Paul Carberry, Director for Scotland, Action for Children
  3. Martin Crewe, Director, Barnardo’s Scotland
  4. John Dickie, Director of Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland
  5. Jackie Brock, Chief Executive, Children in Scotland
  6. Mary Glasgow, Chief Executive, Children 1st
  7. Satwat Rehman, Chief Executive, OPFS
  8. Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland
  9. Peter Kelly, Director, The Poverty Alliance
  10. Claire Telfer, Head of Scotland, Save the Children
  11. Tracey McFall, CEO, Partners in Advocacy
  12. Dr Neil Henery, Director, Camphill Scotland
  13. Clare Cable, Chief Executive and Nurse Director, Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland
  14. Alistair Brown, National Director, Scottish Association of Social Work
  15. Justina Murray, CEO, Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol & Drugs
  16. Ewan Aitken, Chief Executive, Cyrenians
  17. Martin Dorchester, Chief Executive, Includem
  18. Janis McDonald, Chief Officer, deafscotland
  19. Professor Ian Welsh OBE, Chief Executive, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE)
  20. Prof Morag Treanor, Heriot-Watt University
  21. Nancy Loucks, CEO, Families Outside
  22. Matt Forde, National Head of Service, NSPCC Scotland
  23. Ella Simpson, Chief Executive, EVOC
  24. Duncan Dunlop, CEO, Who Cares? Scotland
  25. Jimmy Wilson, CEO, FARE Scotland
  26. Dr Anne Mullin, Chair, the Deep End Group Scotland
  27. Craig Samuel, NAWRA representative Scotland
  28. Jo Derrick, CEO, Staf
  29. Dr Hayley Bennett, Social Policy Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh
  30. Prof Adrian Sinfield, University of Edinburgh
  31. Claire Burns, Director, CELCIS
  32. David Thomson, Destiny Church
  33. Dr Hartwig Pautz, Senior Lecturer in Social Sciences at the University of the West of Scotland and co-lead of the UWS-Oxfam Partnership
  34. Mike J Kirby, Scottish Secretary, UNISON
  35. Professor Mhairi Mackenzie, Professor of Public Policy, University of Glasgow
  36. Nick Bailey, Professor of Urban Studies, University of Glasgow
  37. Graeme McAlister, Chief Executive, Scottish Childminding Association
  38. Colin Flinn, Chief Executive, Royal Caledonian Education Trust
  39. Mark O’Donnell, Chief Executive, Royal Blind
  40. Douglas Guest, Acting Director for Scotland, Home-Start UK Scotland
  41. Billy Watson, Chief Executive, Scottish Association for Mental Health
  42. Alan Thornburrow, Director, Business in the Community Scotland
  43. Juliet Harris, Director, Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights)
  44. Bernard Harris, Professor of Social Policy, University of Strathclyde
  45. Janet Haugh, Chief Executive, Ypeople
  46. Cath Morrison, Chief Executive, The Lilias Graham Trust
  47. Dr Mhairi Crawford, Chief Executive, LGBT Youth Scotland
  48. Pat Rafferty, Scottish Secretary, Unite the Union
  49. Professor Stephen Sinclair, Co-Director, Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit, Glasgow Caledonian University
  50. Professor John McKendrick, Co-Director, Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit, Glasgow Caledonian University
  51. Professor Sharon Wright, Professor of Social Policy, University of Glasgow
  52. Hugh Foy, Director of Programmes and Partnerships, UK Region Xaverian Missionaries
  53. Professor Chik Collins, Rector (Vice Chancellor) of the University of the Faroe Islands
  54. Shaben Begum, Director, Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance
  55. Dr David Walsh, Public Health Programme Manager, Glasgow Centre for Population Health
  56. Emma Revie, Chief Executive, The Trussell Trust
  57. Professor Steve Turner, Scottish Officer, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
  58. Kate Wimpress, Chair, SURF – Scotland’s Regeneration Forum
  59. Angela Moohan, Chief Executive Officer, The Larder West Lothian
  60. Nathan Sparling, Chief Executive, HIV Scotland
  61. Neil Mathers, Chief Executive, Children’s University Scotland
  62. Steven McCluskey, Chairperson, Bikes for Refugees
  63. Margo Uprichard, CEO, The Louise Project
  64. Clare Simpson, Manager, Parenting across Scotland
  65. Ron Culley, Chief Executive, Quarriers
  66. Jane Brumpton, Chief Executive, Early Years Scotland.
  67. Hazel Brown, Chief Executive Officer, Cornerstone
  68. Anne F.Meikle, Convenor, Scottish Women’s Budget Group
  69. Larry Flanagan, General Secretary, EIS
  70. Douglas Hamilton, former Chair of the Poverty and Inequality Commission
  71. Emily Beardsmore, CEO, Light Up Learning
  72. Virginia Radcliffe, CEO, Licketyspit
  73. Roz Foyer, General Secretary Designate, STUC
  74. Marie Ward, Chief Executive Officer, Cranhill Development Trust
  75. Ian Bruce, Chief Executive, Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector (GCVS)
  76. Jacqui Hardie, Executive Strategic Manager, Fife Gingerbread
  77. Professor Mike Danson, Chair, CBINS (Citizen’s Basic Income Network Scotland)
  78. Shona Blakeley, Executive Director, Women’s Fund for Scotland
  79. Emma Jackson, National Director Scotland, Christians Against Poverty
  80. Sharon Colvin, CEO, 3D Drumchapel
  81. Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary, NASUWT
  82. Maragret Nakityo, Secretary, Afreshe
  83. Traci Kirkland, Head of Charity, Govan Community Project
  84. Rachel Sutherland, Bureau Manager, East & Central Sutherland Citizens Advice Bureau
  85. Bishop Nolan, President, Justice and Peace Scotland
  86. Jim McCormick, Associate Director for Scotland, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  87. Russell Gunson, Director, IPPR Scotland
  88. Frazer Scott, CEO, Energy Action Scotland
  89. Anna Ritchie Allan, Executive Director, Close the Gap
  90. Tim Frew, Chief Executive, YouthLink Scotland
  91. Shruti Jain, Chair, Saheliya
  92. Marguerite Hunter Blair, Chief Executive, Play Scotland
  93. Linda Tuthill, CEO, The Action Group
  94. Rami Okasha, Chief Executive, CHAS
  95. Irene Audain MBE, Chief Executive, Scottish Out of School Care Network
  96. Rachel Adamson, Co-Director, Zero Tolerance
  97. Dr Marsha Scott, Chief Executive Officer, Scottish Women’s Aid
  98. Dave Liddell, Chief Executive Officer, Scottish Drugs Forum
  99. Sharon McAulay, Project Manager, STAR Project
  100. Danny Collins, National President, Society of St Vincent de Paul (Scotland)
  101. Emma Ritch, Executive Director, Engender