Europe

Sturgeon’s swipe at Boris with child support hike in Scotland after universal credit cut

Nicola Sturgeon grilled on independence by Andrew Marr

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Speaking virtually to the SNP conference today (Monday), the Scottish First Minister said the payments will double to £20 every four weeks from the next financial year. She claimed they would be the “boldest and most ambitions anti-poverty measures” in the UK.

In her speech, Ms Sturgeon attacked the UK Government for “actively eroding” devolved powers, adding that it “too often hinders rather than helps our progress”.

She also used the speech to once again threaten an independence referendum.

The child support payment is unique within the UK to Scotland.

According to the Express and Star, Scotland currently pays out to families of over 105,000 children under the age of six.

However, who it is rolled out to children up to the age of 16 from low-income backgrounds, around 400,000 children will receive payments.

The SNP committed to increasing the payments in their manifesto earlier this year – ahead of Scottish Parliamentary elections.

The increase would “involve hard choices” elsewhere in the Scottish budget, Ms Sturgeon conceded.

But, she claimed: “This is without doubt the boldest and most ambitious anti-poverty measure anywhere in the UK.”

She added: “The doubled payments will reach over 100,000 children under the age of six in just four months’ time.

“And when we extend the Scottish Child Payment to all under-16s at the end of next year, over 400,000 children and their families will be eligible.”

The move was welcomed by Scottish anti-poverty campaigners.

John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, said it was a “hugely welcome development on the path to meeting Scotland’s child poverty targets”.

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He added: “This is a real lifeline for the families across Scotland who are facing a perfect storm of financial insecurity as the UK cut to universal credit bites, energy prices soar and the wider costs of living rise.”

Tom French, SNP spokesperson, argued the move “shows the difference a progressive SNP government is making, and stands in stark contrast to the Tories who are taking money from families and pushing people into poverty”.

Ms Sturgeon said in her speech that Scotland leaving the UK would give it the “opportunity to repair the damage of Covid” in a way “that aligns with our values and priorities as a nation”.

She argued: “I defy anyone to look at the broken, corrupt, self-serving Westminster system that we are currently part of and conclude that it provides a secure basis for the future of Scotland.”

Ms Sturgeon has already pledged to hold a second independence referendum before the end of 2023, after the country voted to remain a part of the UK in 2014.

During that referendum, former SNP leader Alex Salmond said that the vote was “once in a generation” – a claim the Prime Minister has cited while refusing to grant a second.

Ms Sturgeon said that the campaign for independence would “resume in earnest” next year if the coronavirus pandemic didn’t halt plans.

She said: “My message to the Prime Minister is this: if you have any respect at all for democracy – and if you have any confidence whatsoever in your argument against independence – you too will let the people decide.”

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