Nearly half of families with children in Scotland struggling to make ends meet through the COVID-19 crisis

14/05/2020

News

The COVID-19 crisis is affecting everyone, but when it comes to the financial impact on families, it’s not hitting everyone equally.

- Russell Gunson, Director of IPPR Scotland

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300,000 households with dependent children in Scotland (49 per cent) ‘struggling to make ends meet’ or in ‘serious financial difficulty’ during this COVID-19 crisis.

New analysis from IPPR Scotland using the Standard Life Foundation’s COVID-19 Financial Impact Tracker shows the shocking toll that COVID-19 is already having on families’ finances across Scotland. It shows that:

  • 49 per cent of families with dependent children in Scotland, that’s 300,000 households, are ‘struggling to make ends meet’ or in ‘serious financial difficulty’. This compares to 30 per cent of all households in Scotland.
  • One in five (20 per cent) of families with children in Scotland, or 100,000 households, reported experiencing serious financial difficulty in April. This compares with 12 per cent of all households across Scotland. Families in this group were also the most likely to be struggling to pay essential bills and to pay for food.

The Scottish Government has moved to provide low income families with food or payments for school lunches and has funded additional crisis funds through the Welfare Fund. However, it has been forced to delay the implementation of the new Scottish Child Payment which would have provided £10 per week to low income families in Scotland.

IPPR Scotland is calling for the UK and Scottish governments to act:

  1. The Scottish Government must urgently provide lump-sum payments of £250 per child to low-income families this summer – this could be paid to families in receipt of Best Start Grant (for under 5s) and through local authorities to those in receipt of the School Clothing Grant (for over 5s).
  2. The UK government must urgently increase the child supplements paid through Universal Credit by £10 per week and provide a £5 uplift in Child Benefit for the duration of the crisis.

Russell Gunson, Director of IPPR Scotland, said:

“The scale of financial difficulties facing families with children in Scotland is truly shocking. Nearly half of them are in financial trouble, and one in five are facing serious financial difficulties, meaning they are likely to be struggling to pay for food or essential bills. The COVID-19 crisis is affecting everyone, but when it comes to the financial impact on families, it’s not hitting everyone equally.

“The UK government must now consider additional support to families through the social security system. And while the Scottish Government has moved to provide some welcome additional support to people in crisis it’s been forced to delay the Scottish Child Payment due to COVID-19. They must now look at what more can be done to urgently get families and children the help they need here in Scotland.

“The scale of this crisis is huge and we’re moving into a crisis which is both an economic one and a health one. The Scottish and UK governments must now do everything they can to support those that need it the most”.

Mubin Haq, Chief Executive of Standard Life Foundation, said:

“Given the strong commitments made by the Scottish Government to reducing child poverty, the news that families with dependent children are amongst the hardest hit financially since lockdown, comes as a severe blow. Only fifteen per cent are financially secure.

“The Scottish and UK governments have responded, but it is clear these measures do not provide enough of a lifeline. Standard Life Foundation’s financial impact tracker indicates that unless further support is provided many more families are expected to be in financial difficulties over the coming months. This is not an outcome any would want, but only decisive action will help those struggling to make ends meet”.

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