Failure to pass the Scottish budget would be a “grave blow” to efforts aimed at reducing child poverty, Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell has said.
Warning that Government spending on child poverty could be jeopardised, Ms Campbell cautioned opposition parties of the “very real impact” if there are delays in passing the plans.
The minority SNP Government will need opposition support to pass its budget, which includes a £3.4 billion on social security following the transfer of welfare powers to Holyrood.
Measures to reduce child poverty – which is estimated to affect 24% of all children in Scotland – include the Scottish Child Payment of £10 a week for each eligible child.
The Scottish Government has forecast the new benefit will lift 30,000 children out of poverty but Ms Campbell said delays passing the budget would have a knock-on impact on claimants.
“If the budget Bill does not pass it will be a grave blow in our efforts to eradicate the scourge of child poverty from our society,” Ms Campbell said.
“We are taking firm action to deliver lasting change to those who need it most and any postponement of the Bill is a delay in the help we can provide to the greatest number of low-income families possible.
“We are working hard so the first tranche of Scottish Child Payments can start later this year and provide help to an estimated 170,000 children under six that those children are not getting now.
“This is an example of the scale of the very real impact any delay in the passing of the Bill will have.”
Scotland is the only UK country with income-based targets to eradicate child poverty but local authorities have argued the budget proposals put the 2030 target at risk.
The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) warned the funding for councils in the budget Bill would result in a £95 million cut to revenue and £117 million reduction to capital funds – £300 million and £130 million in real terms respectively.
Stephen McCabe, Cosla’s children and young people spokesman, said: “Scottish and local government are supposed to have a joint priority to tackle child poverty in all forms.
“The risks of not investing include a generation of children continuing to live in poverty and unable to reach their full potential, homelessness, persistent unemployment in some families, hunger, family breakdown and its wider societal costs to all parts of the public sector.
“We are calling on the Government and the Parliament to address these concerns, listen to our asks and prevent the loss of essential council services which communities rely upon.”