End Young Parent Poverty: Top up the Scottish Child Payment

Last updated: 14/11/2023

55% of children with mums under 25 in Scotland are in poverty – more than double the overall rate of child poverty. This can’t be right.

We believe all children deserve the best start in life, but this isn’t possible when there is inequality built into the systems which are supposed to help keep our heads above water, especially when times are hard.  

Across the UK, people aged under 23 are entitled to a lower minimum wage, and under Universal Credit, all under 25s receive less than older claimants in the same circumstances.

The direct result of the age discrimination in Universal Credit is that:

  • Couple parents under 25 lose out by £120 per month compared with over 25s.
  • Single parents lose out by £75 per month compared with over 25s.

This has widely been described as the ‘Young Parent Penalty’ because young parents are now receiving less support even though they have the same costs as parents aged 25 and over. This was not the case before Universal Credit was introduced.

This is why we and 81 partner organisations are asking for your support in the campaign to #EndYoungParentPoverty, starting with two simple calls:

  1. The Scottish Government should act now to support young families with a top-up to the Scottish Child Payment for parents under 25 in receipt of Universal Credit.
  2. The UK Government must urgently reverse this discriminatory policy and pay under 25s the same rate of benefits as over 25s.

Share our campaign on social media

  1. Follow us and share your messages of support on social media using the hashtag #EndYoungParentPoverty.
  2. Download our campaign images and suggested posts here.


Why the Scottish Government should provide a top-up for young parents

We’ve created a briefing with Child Poverty Action Group Scotland, Engender, and Who Cares? Scotland which explains in detail why young parents and their children need more financial support, and why the Scottish Government should take action now.

Reasons to act now include:

  • Helping children at the highest risk of poverty by far, in line with Scotland’s commitment to end child poverty.
  • Promoting gender equality by addressing disproportionate impacts of the social security system on young women and deep inequalities faced by young mums.
  • Keeping the Promise to care experienced young people. Evidence shows that care experienced young women aged 14-24 are two to three times more likely to give birth than their non-care experienced peers, with most giving birth after they have left care.
  • Supporting young single parents, who have to cover costs for their children alone whilst on a lower income because of their age. 47% of children with mothers under 25 in Scotland have single parents, and young single parent families are the household type most likely to lose out from the move to Universal Credit.
Download Supporting young parents through Scottish Child Payment
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Write to your MSP and MP

We are asking MSPs across the Scottish Parliament to pledge their support for a top-up to the Scottish Child Payment for parents under 25. You can help by writing to your MSP, asking them to pledge their support. Find the email addresses of your MSP by entering your postcode here.

See the list of MSPs who have pledged their support for the campaign so far.

The UK Government must urgently reverse the discriminatory policy of paying under 25s less in Universal Credit.
Write to your MP about the issue and ask them to urge the UK Government to change its policy. Find the email addresses of your MP by entering your postcode here.

I can’t pay for gas or electricity. I’ve spoken to the council about this but they say because I live in a housing association flat I have to pay it, but I haven’t paid because I just can’t afford it.

- Hassan, Young Dad aged 24, Edinburgh

Hassan’s story

We spoke to Hassan*, a 24-year-old single dad who lives with his two-year-old son in Edinburgh, about the challenges of being a young parent and what needs to change to improve the social security system to better support young parents under 25.

  Read Hassan's story
I don’t go out, I’ve never been on a holiday or anything. I don’t even have my own bank account because I can’t afford to pay for ID. Universal Credit is paid into my nana’s account for me.

- Rachel, Young mum, aged 24, Edinburgh

Rachel’s story

Rachel is a care-experienced 24-year-old single mum who is living in temporary accommodation in Edinburgh. She told us how limited financial support and the rising cost of living is impacting her daily life.

  Read Rachel's story

Campaign supporters

Organisations backing the campaign to for a young parent top-up to the Scottish Child Payment include:

6VT Edinburgh Youth Cafe, Aberlour, Action for Children, ACVO (Aberdeen Council of Voluntary Organisations), Asian Single Parent Network, Ayr Housing Aid, Barnardos Scotland, Befriending Networks, BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service), Carers Scotland, Broke Not Broken,  CELCIS (Centre for Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection), Change Mental Health, Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, Children in Northern Ireland, Children in Scotland, CYCJ (Children and Young Peoples Centre for Justice), Children 1st, Christians Against Poverty, Circle Scotland, Close the Gap, Dads Rock, Dr Bell’s Family Centre, Early Years Scotland, Edinburgh Community Fund, End Child Poverty, Engender, Families Outside, Family Fund, Fathers Network Scotland, Fife Gingerbread, Flexible Childcare Services Scotland, Glasgow City Parents Group, Glasgow Disability Alliance, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (ALLIANCE), HomeStart Scotland, Human Rights Consortium Scotland, Includem, IFAN (Independent FOOD AID Network), JustRight Scotland, LGBT Health and Wellbeing, LGBT Youth Scotland, Living Rent, Mental Health Foundation Scotland, MCFB (Multi-Cultural Family Base), National Association of Welfare Rights Advisors, NSPCC Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, Oxfam Scotland, Parenting Across Scotland, Parenting Network Scotland, Peek Project, Poverty Alliance, Pregnant Then Screwed, Rock Trust, Romsey Mill, Rosemount Lifelong Learning, Save the Children, Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs, Settle, SOSCN (Scottish Out of School Care Network), Scottish Women’s Aid, Scottish Women’s Budget Group, Scottish Women’s Convention, Shared Care Scotland, Shelter Scotland, Sikh Sanjog, SMBN (Single Mums Business Network), Single Parents Rights, STAF (Scottish Thoroughcare and Aftercare Forum), Star Project, STUC (Scottish Trades Union Congress), The Equality Trust, The Fostering Network, The HR Booth, Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights), Trussell Trust, Turn2us, Voice of Young People in Care, Voluntary Health Scotland, Who Cares? Scotland, Women’s Enterprise Scotland, YWCA Scotland, Zero Tolerance, Z2K (Zacchaeus 2000 Trust)

If your organisation or group would like to sign up to support the campaign or you have other ideas on how to get involved, please get in touch to let us know at media@opfs.org.uk.