Faith leaders from across Scotland have called on Nicola Sturgeon to make a “moral case” for immediately doubling the £10 a week Scottish Child payment.
Religious figures have called on the Scottish Government to “use its powers to do the just and compassionate thing” by committing to doubling the payment to £20 this financial year.
In a joint statement released ahead of the publication of Sturgeon’s Programme for Government, the leaders say that the levels of poverty in communities across Scotland “go against everything we stand for as a society.”
The Scottish Government has already signalled that it will double the new benefit within the five year lifetime of the new parliament but the religious leaders, in common with poverty campaigners, have urged the SNP-Green alliance to act now.
The intervention from key figures representing Scotland’s major faith groups comes two weeks after more than 120 organisations from across Scottish civil society wrote to Nicola Sturgeon, urging her to “do the right thing” by committing to doubling the payment.
The faith leaders highlighted the “moral imperative that the Scottish Government does all it can to lift children out of poverty” by immediately doubling the £10 per week per child benefit for low income families.
Those signing the joint statement include Jim Wallace (Moderator of the Church of Scotland), Bishop William Nolan (Scottish Catholic Bishops Conference), Imam Dr Muhammad Rafiq Habib (Convenor, Muslim Council of Scotland), Rabbi Moshe Rubin (Senior Rabbi of Scotland and Giffnock and Newlands Hebrew Congregation), Charandeep Singh BEM (Director, Sikhs in Scotland), Madhu Jain (Executive Committee, Hindu Mandir
Glasgow), Elizabeth Allen (Clerk, General Meeting for Scotland, Quakers) and Lieut. Col. Carol Bailey (Secretary for Scotland, The Salvation Army).
More than 108,000 children have already benefited from the Scottish Government’s new Scottish Child Payment according to the latest official statistics.
Jim Wallace, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: “ We have the means to help and there has been support expressed across the political spectrum. Surely there must now be the will to carry this through.”
Imam Dr Muhammad Rafiq Habib, convenor of the Muslim Council of Scotland, said: “Around one quarter of children in Scotland are living in poverty and we all share a moral duty to do what we can to help. These families deserve dignity and fairness.”
The Scottish Government’s new benefit provides financial support for low income families caring for a child under 5 years of age. The payment will be made available to children aged 6-15 by the end of 2022.
Shona Robison, the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, said: “Tackling child poverty is a national mission for this government and I am proud that we are already supporting over one hundred thousand children through this brand new benefit. The Scottish Child Payment is unparalleled across the UK and unique in being a benefit to tackle child poverty head on.
“We have also committed to significantly increasing the level of Scottish Child Payment, following the planned rollout to 6 to 15 year olds, in order to maximise the impact on child poverty, with the full £20 payment being achieved within the lifetime of the Parliament.”
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