CPAG in Scotland blog
Welcome to the CPAG Scotland blog, where we comment on topical social issues and the latest research on child poverty in Scotland and in the rest of the UK. Comments and discussion are welcome – see our comments policy.
When you spend as much time researching and talking about child poverty as I do it's easy to become disheartened. Remaining motivated and optimistic in the face of a projected 50% increase in child poverty by 2020 and swingeing social security cuts sometimes feels like a herculean task.
The Chancellor announced a number of cuts in his Summer Budget that will impact on parents receiving tax credits or universal credit. The cuts will reduce the number of parents receiving tax credits and the level of support that is received.
Generally, once you have claimed universal credit (UC), you stay on it even if your circumstances later change – sometimes called the ‘lobster-pot’ principle. However, if your circumstances change so that you are no longer eligible for UC, in certain situations you may be able to claim the benefits that UC is replacing (housing benefit, jobseeker’s allowance, income support etc). This may be particularly useful for young people who live away from their parents, are on UC and who start a full-time non-advanced course at college.
This guest blog is written by Laura Martin, Senior Health Improvement Officer – Early Years (Child Poverty) at NHS Health Scotland.
This comment was first printed in 'The National' on Thursday 9th July 2015
Despite the Chancellor’s assurances that this is a ‘one nation’ budget’, there should be no mistake that this is a budget which will exclude and deprive, widening the gap between the haves and the have nots and forcing more children across Scotland into poverty.
Moving considerably faster than an advancing glacier, from February of this year, Universal Credit is extending its reach and grasp to cover more groups in greater depth, in more parts of Scotland.
Depending on who you are, you may be viewing its stately progress with anxiety or scepticism. You may feel optimistic about its potential to reduce poverty. Regardless of which camp you belong to, we hope to hear more from you about your experiences over the coming months through the advice line, by email or the Early Warning System.
Back in March this year I spent three weeks in West Lothian food bank conducting interviews as part of Oxfam, CPAG and the Trussell Trust’s “Emergency Use Only” project. The research was a chance to get to the bottom of some of the questions a lot of us have about food bank use in Scotland. How - in one of the richest nations on earth - can 71,482 households have needed food parcels last year? And how should we react to food banks? Should we welcome them as an expression of society’s generosity or reject them as a symptom of its failure?
With just a few days to go before the Scottish independence referendum John Dickie, Director of CPAG in Scotland, highlights how CPAG has informed the terms of debate and argues that the challenge now for anti-poverty campaigners is to ensure that heightened public engagement and concern with child poverty in campaign debates is harnessed for real change, wherever powers end up lying after September 18th.
In this, one of two guest blogs outlining why a Yes or No vote is in the best interest of ending child poverty in Scotland, Cailean Gallagher, a contributing author to Poverty in Scotland 2014: the independence referendum and beyond, makes the case for the Yes campaign.