Data dispute over lifeline benefit could delay child poverty reduction targets

The Scottish Child Payment has already helped thousands of low-income families across the country.

It is the flagship benefit of the devolved social security system and is supposed to be an example of how Holyrood can deliver benefits in a more humane way.

So far it has been aimed at children aged under six – but the payment is supposed to be rolled out across older age groups by the end of next year.

But that plan has hit the skids as the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) can’t reach an agreement with the Scottish Government over sharing data.

A Holyrood committee meeting spelled out how far both sides are from reaching a deal. Meanwhile, such uncertainty will already be causing concerns for those who are relying on the payment taking effect.

The new benefit is part of the SNP Government’s wider plan to narrow the attainment gap between the richest and poorest pupils in schools.

If the whole scheme is delayed, it could have knock-on effects that could push child poverty reduction targets back even further. The timing could not be worse, with families already having to cope with the end of the Universal Credit uplift and rising household bills.

The last thing struggling families need is a lifeline benefit being stopped because of bureaucratic wrangling between two sets of civil servants in London and Edinburgh.

Both sides need to work hard to ensure any remaining barriers stopping the expansion of the payment are removed as quickly as possible. Further delays are simply unacceptable.

Don’t be silly, Billy

Billy Connolly believes today’s “woke” culture would have prevented him from making it as a comedian.

The 78-year-old built a career on keen observations, often delivered with the type of strong language that was rarely heard on television at the time.

Now though, he doubts his fearless routines would have made it past TV executives, keen not to offend anyone.

We think the Big Yin does himself a disservice. Billy’s comedy genius was never racist or homophobic, even though his career developed at a time when TV shows and stand-up routines were full of material that should have been unacceptable even then.

He didn’t punch down on minorities but rather, he held up a mirror to many of us, making us laugh at ourselves and the absurdities of modern life through his own unique perspective.

This great Scot would have delighted audiences in any era. Billy Connolly was often ahead of his time when he picked his targets… and he was always funny.

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