Child poverty has been increasing in recent years due to the impact of UK Government welfare cuts and has been further exacerbated by the pandemic. We cannot allow that to stand.
Our new Scottish Child Payment provides low income families with an additional £40 every four weeks, initially for each child under 6. We will roll out this benefit for all children under 16 in low income families by the end of 2022.
And, over the course of the parliament we will double the Scottish Child Payment to £20 a week, or £80 per month. This will help up to 450,000 children in 250,000 households.
During the pandemic we have provided additional help to low income families, providing free school meals in holidays, and additional income through £100 pandemic payments.
To bridge the gap until the Scottish Child Payment is fully rolled out to all under 16s we will provide the equivalent of the Scottish Child Payment to all low income families in receipt of free school meals, in the same way as we have made payments during the pandemic.
This will mean payments of £520 per child, paid in quarterly instalments, in both 2021 and 2022. This additional funding will reach up to 170,000 children.
Next year an SNP government will also publish our new four year delivery plan, updating our actions to tackle child poverty. This will be backed again by a £50 million fund to help lift children out of poverty.
A vital element of this plan will be investing in employability support for low‐income and disabled parents. We will nearly double the planned investment in the Parental Employability Support Fund to £15 million in the next two years to help improve employment chances and support parents into good, secure jobs. We will also explore how we can link Parental Employment Support with our national Fair Start employment programmes.
The UK government repealed large parts of the Child Poverty Act 2010, including income-based child poverty targets. Scotland is now the only UK nation to have clear targets for the eradication of child poverty set out in law. We continue to call on the UK government to match our ambition by reintroducing UK-wide targets to end child poverty.