7 bold steps the SNP is taking to tackle poverty

Tackling poverty and inequality is the single biggest challenge facing Scotland and requires continued, urgent and sustained action.

We’re determined to tackle poverty and build a fairer, more equal future – and we’re matching our ambition with bold, progressive policies.

That’s why the First Minister held an anti-poverty summit, bringing together campaigners, cross-party representatives and those with direct experience of poverty, in order to drive new momentum in the fight against poverty in Scotland.

Here’s seven things the SNP Government is already doing.

1. Helping people with energy costs and tackling fuel poverty

We’re working hard to protect people across Scotland from the Tory cost of living crisis, and support people struggling with their energy bills.

That’s why, going beyond our original commitment to double the Fuel Insecurity Fund, First Minister Humza Yousaf has announced tripling it to £30 million, in order to deliver even more tailored support to tens of thousands of households.

We also replaced the DWP’s Cold Weather Payment which those on lowest incomes could only get if it was cold enough for long enough. We’ve set up the Winter Heating Payment, and this year £50 was automatically paid to the the 400,000 lowest income people to support them with their energy bills.

In the longer term, we’re investing £1.6 billion to make homes across Scotland more energy efficient – helping to tackle fuel poverty and tackle the climate crisis.

2. A new, fairer social security system for Scotland

We’ve established Social Security Scotland – a new Scottish social security system, with dignity, fairness and respect at its heart.

Since we began making payments in 2018, it has already made a real positive impact on people across the country – supporting families and carers on low incomes, and helping disabled people live independent lives.

We’ve built this new system with, for and around the people who use it – guided by the fundamental belief that social security is not a burden, but an investment in our people.

3. Delivering 13 benefits – 7 of them completely new and unique to Scotland

We are now delivering 13 Scottish Government benefits – seven of which are completely new and unique within the UK, such as the Carers Allowance Supplement and the Scottish Child Payment, labelled by charities as a “game-changer” in our fight against poverty.

While almost 13 years of Tory austerity and welfare cuts have pushed families into poverty, we’re using our limited powers to do all we can and lift people out of poverty.

Leading UN poverty expert, Prof. Philip Alston, accused the UK government in his report of “systematic immiseration of a significant part of the British population” – comparing the Tory welfare policies to the creation of 19th-century workhouses.

In the same report, Alston said the Scottish welfare system is “thriving” – with Scotland on “a very different trajectory” to the rest of the UK in its approach to social security.

4. We’ve introduced the Scottish Child Payment and increased it by 150%

In 2022, to help lift children out of poverty, we’ve increased the Scottish Child Payment to £25 per week, per eligible child.

That’s five times the original amount that campaigners called for, and a 150% increase in the space of just one year.

Scotland is the only part of the UK where this additional financial support payment for families with young children is available, and the Scottish Child Payment is the most ambitious anti-poverty measure taken across the four nations.

5. Strongest support for families with children anywhere in the UK

A report from CPAG (Child Poverty Action Group) shows that our policies are having a positive impact in on reducing the financial burden for families with children across Scotland.

Thanks to our more progressive tax and social security system, the IFS have stated that the poorest families with children in Scotland are around £2,000 better off per year.

Our policy of universal free school meals in P1-P5 makes the cost of bringing up a child £1,700 cheaper.

The expanded free childcare we offer saves all families around £5,000 per child per year.

Meanwhile, free bus travel for under-22s saves £3,000 in the lifetime cost of a child in Scotland compared to England.

6. Best Start Grants: providing vital support in the early years of a child’s life

We are now delivering five family benefits to those most in need.

Alongside the Scottish Child Payment, we have three Best Start Grants in the early years and Best Start Foods – helping those on lower incomes who are pregnant or have young children to buy healthy, nutritious food.

Our Best Start Grants support people with payments at pivotal times in a young child’s life – with £600 on the birth of their first child, and £300 on the birth of later children, and payments when a child turns 3 and 5.

This is around £10,000 support in the early years of life.

7. A better deal for carers

Under the old UK system, Carer’s Allowance was the lowest of all working benefits.

The first new social security benefit we introduced when we had the powers and legislation was the Carers Allowance Supplement – which now puts over £490 extra each year into carerspockets compared to carers in the rest of the UK.

Across Scotland, carers continuously in receipt of Carer’s Allowance have received over £2,500 more than carers in the rest of the UK, since we introduced it in 2018.

Scottish taxpayers get the best deal anywhere in the UK, while paying the lowest average council tax

With a fair and progressive income tax approach, we’re delivering record high investment in our NHS, education and social security.

Under the SNP, people across Scotland benefit from:

  • Free university tuition
  • Free NHS prescriptions
  • Free eye tests
  • Free bus travel for under-22s
  • Free NHS dental care for under-26s
  • And much more.

Scotland also has the lowest average council tax in the UK – taxpayers in Band D are paying, on average, £590 a year less than they would in Tory-run England, and £423 less than in Labour-run Wales.

Meanwhile, people across Scotland pay the price for Westminster control

Almost almost thirteen years of brutal Tory austerity and a hard Brexit that Scotland never voted for, people and communities are facing real hardship – the price of Westminster control.

According to the OBR, the UK government’s own financial body, the economic hit of Brexit is twice as bad as that of Covid.

Despite bold policies in Scotland, such as the Scottish Child Payment which could lift an estimated 50,000 children out of relative poverty, more than 2,000 food banks have opened across the UK as a direct consequence of Tory cuts at Westminster.

And while the UK is suffering the worst levels of poverty and inequality out of neighbouring countries, small independent nations like Ireland, Belgium or Denmark perform significantly better.

With independence, Scotland can unleash its full potential and build a better society. Join us today and help make it happen.