Low-income families in Orkney will benefit from a £320 uplift before Christmas as part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to tackling child poverty.
Eligible families with children in school will receive payments of £160 per child in October and December. Two Bridging Payments of £100 have already been made via local councils, taking the total to £520 this year.
The cash is equivalent to the Scottish Child Payment – a £10-a-week benefit to assist with the costs of caring for a child aged under six years old. The Scottish Government will extend the Scottish Child payment to all eligible under-16s by the end of 2022, and is committed to double the payment to £20 per week as quickly as possible.
Bridging Payments are made for each child in receipt of free school meals due to low income and are distributed by local authorities.
The bridging payment this summer, distributed through Orkney Islands Council, paid out 268 payments totalling £26,800.
In 2022, four equal payments of £130 will be made to eligible families at Easter, summer, October and Christmas to broadly align with the start of school holidays.
Scottish Child Payment, together with the three Best Start Grant payments and Best Start Foods, could give families on low incomes up to £5,300 by the time their first child turns six.
The Scottish Government has also provided a pandemic support payment of £130 to every household who received Council Tax reduction in April, reaching around 500,000 households.
UK Government Cuts
The UK Tory Government is set to cut Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit from the end of this month (September). The move will reduce support for many hardworking families by £1,040 a year. This is the biggest cut to welfare support since the 1930s.
The Tories have also voted to raise National Insurance payments which will hit the lower earners proportionately worse with an increase of £1.25 in the pound. For example, an employee on £20,000 a year will pay an extra £130. Earnings between £9,564 and £50,268 pay at a rate of 12%. Anything earned above this amount attracts a rate of just 2%. As your income rises above £50,000, National Insurance becomes a smaller and smaller proportion of your wage packet.
At the 2019 General Election 6 Tory MPs were elected in Scotland with a manifesto pledge that they would not raise National Insurance payments.
SNP Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick welcomed the payments to children and families from the Scottish Government. She said:
“I know that many families in Orkney are finding it hard just now. The impact that the pandemic has had on household finances is real, and has only been made worse by the cost of Tory’s obsession with Brexit and their unrelenting cruel austerity agenda.
“I am pleased that in Scotland, we have an SNP Scottish Government doing right thing by its citizens with these payments, meaning £85,760 in the pockets of low income families in Orkney.
“The Scottish Child Payment is already the most ambitious anti-poverty measure currently being undertaken anywhere in the UK and we have committed to doubling it to £20-a-week per child as soon as possible in this parliamentary term.
“It’s clear that building a better future for children in Orkney, and right across Scotland, is at the top of the agenda in the SNP’s Programme for Government.
“As the Tories plough on with their indefensible move to cut £20-a-week in Universal Credit from those who need it most, the SNP Government is using the powers it has to provide real, practical help for families in Scotland. It’s crystal clear that the only way to keep Scotland safe from Westminster cuts is to become an independent country.”