Ministers Urged To Increase Child Benefit For Poorest Families

19 October 2016, 11:03 | Updated: 19 October 2016, 12:02

Scotland's Children's Commissioner has backed calls for the Scottish Government to use new powers to top up child benefit payments to the poorest families.

Tam Baillie said the move, recommended by an expert group earlier this year, was necessary to ensure every child had enough food to thrive.

In June, the government's Independent Working Group on Child Poverty urged ministers to use new social security powers coming to Holyrood to fund an increase in child benefit.

The group said an increase of £5 per child per week would lift 30,000 children out of poverty at a cost of £256 million a year.

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on how best to use the new social security powers to be devolved under the Scotland Act 2016.

Mr Baillie, Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland, said: "We know that almost one in five children in Scotland is living in relative poverty and charities report that a third of people depending on food banks are children.

"This can only harm children's physical and mental well-being; unless their basic need to be well-nourished is met, we cannot expect children to concentrate at school or on other activities.''

The commissioner also highlighted a lack of accurate data about the number of children in Scotland who do not have enough food to eat, as he published a report about children's views on food insecurity.

He said: "The greatest insight of this research is of young children's desire and ability to solve the challenges they see in the world around them, which raises a number of questions about the inclusion of children in public policy and decision-making more generally.''