Scotland: Local authorities representative criticises SNP policy
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Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) spokeswoman Gail Macgregor gave evidence at a Holyrood committee that looked at how the Scottish Government could best support Scots post-pandemic. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has heralded her new Scottish Child Payment policy as being a key step that will fight child poverty in Scotland. But Ms Macgregor disagreed, stating the £10-a-week given to low-income families per child will do very little to address the core reasons for poverty.
Despite her commitment to tackling child poverty, Ms Sturgeon has faced calls to double the £10-a-week allowance.
The SNP leader has stated she would like to follow through with that but has not provided a timescale or further details on how it would be done.
Leaders at Cosla warned simply giving money to people would not “fully assist them”.
Parents with children under the age of six can receive the payments, if they are in receipt of qualifying benefits, though ministers plan to expand the scheme to all children under the age of 16.
Ms Macgregor told the Holyrood committee the payments had “helped to top up low-income families and people who are very vulnerable”.
But the Cosla representative stressed the money may be beneficial in the short term but it would not provide families with the support they needed.
Ms Macgregor said: “Simply giving people money is not going to fully assist them.
“It might help to get them over that particular week, or that particular month, but we need to get to the root cause of the inequality and ensure that that particular family absolutely has the support in place to ensure a better outcome going forward.
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“Money is a sticking plaster. It’s a very helpful sticking plaster, but it doesn’t get to the root cause of the inequality.
“We’re looking at health and wellbeing and supporting families. This links with quality of housing, education, employment, ensuring that families are assisted with services that will help to enrich their lives.
“I think the key message is whilst it is beneficial in the short term to perhaps give a family some additional income, it is not necessarily getting them the key support they require.”
SNP MSP John Mason added: “If a family is short of food or can’t afford to heat their house, the cash is pretty helpful, isn’t it?”
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Ms Macgregor replied: “It is useful in the short term, but what is possibly more useful is ensuring that people in that family are empowered and assisted into better employment, encouraging them to utilise other services in their communities that can assist them.
“The key message from me is we need to be giving support to families and to parents and to households to ensure they can absolutely make the very best of their lives and have the very best chances in life, rather than just always giving a sticking plaster for a month or a year.”
The decision to increase payments to low-income families with young children was born out of the scrapping of the temporary £20 uplift in Universal Credit.
The cuts are set to be introduced on October 6 with the Conservative Government ignoring pleas to keep the uplift in place permanently.
The SNP have also announced £70million will be invested in the Young Person’s Guarantee scheme this year which will aim to get 16-24-year-olds a guaranteed job, place in the education of training.
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