OPFS Response to the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2023-24
On 5 September, the First Minister set out the key measures to tackle poverty and support children and families in the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government.
The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government, Equality, Opportunity, Community, focused on “tackling poverty and protecting people from harm”, “building a fair, green and growing economy”, and delivering efficient and effective public services”.
A number of the announcements today will have a positive impact for single parent families, however in other areas the Scottish Government could have gone further and One Parent Families Scotland will continue to urge them to do so.
Director of Policy, Strategy and Communications at One Parent Families Scotland Marion Davis said:
“We welcome the strong focus in the programme for government on the importance of tackling poverty, which we know impacts disproportionately on single parents and their children.
“We are pleased that social security benefits including Scottish Child Payment will increase in line with inflation and that the government will continue to invest in reaching more families with the Scottish Child Payment.
“However, it is a matter of urgency that this be increased to at least £30 and ultimately by £40 within this parliament if the government is to meet its targets on reducing child poverty and provide much needed support to families struggling with the cost of life’s basic essentials.
“Alongside this, we and many organisations supporting children and families in Scotland continue to call on the government to provide targeted top-ups through the Scottish Child Payment to reduce the harms of unfair UK Government policies such as the lower rate of Universal Credit for under 25s and the two-child limit.
“It is encouraging that the government will invest in testing approaches to childcare from nine months throughout primary within six local areas and will expand access to childcare for two-year-olds. Increased investment in flexible, affordable, high-quality childcare is vital for single parents.
“However, this progress must be accelerated, and we would call on the government to provide clear commitments on timescales for rolling out these expansions across Scotland. Action is urgently needed to create a system of funded school-age childcare, with qualified staff, whilst committing to the ambition of up to 50 hours of early years childcare.
“We also strongly welcome the commitment to improving the wages of workers in the sector which is currently undervalued and predominantly female, this investment will be vital for gender equality, for giving children the best start in life, and for supporting an essential part of the Scottish economy.
“We were disappointed that other key actions which could have helped reduce inequality in Scotland were not announced, including fairer taxation to address the increased cost of living and climate crisis which is supported by the public and even by many millionaires.
“Furthermore, the government’s commitment to expand free school meals to primary six and sevens has been delayed until 2026. At a time when so many families are struggling to get by, this is a delay that many can ill afford.
“Overall, despite steps in the right direction and a positive understanding of the importance of supporting children and families, this is a programme of government which could – and should – have gone much further in recognition of the bleak situation facing too many families today.”
See the priority areas we recommended the Scottish Government focus on to support single parent families here.