THOUSANDS of families in Scotland are facing losing £570 in real-terms as costs surge, a child poverty campaign group has said.

According to the latest figures from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) there are currently 254,393 children who are in families on Universal Credit (UC) in Scotland.

An analysis by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) stated that with UC set to rise by only 3.1% in April while inflation is likely to peak at 7.25% means a real-terms cut of around £570 each year in social security support.

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It comes as the cost of energy and products in supermarkets surge across the UK.

CPAG added that for families subject to the benefit cap, the loss will be greater.

The campaign group is calling for UC to be increased by 7% this year to match expected inflation rates, and called for MSPs to double the bridging payments made to school aged children.

There are currently 142,980 families in Scotland receiving UC, with 60,619 of those on UC with children under four-years-old.

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Thousands of families are set to be worse off, according to CPAG

John Dickie, Director of CPAG in Scotland said: “The families behind today’s figures are battling to stay afloat against ever higher prices and a real-terms cut in vital social security support.

“Unless the UK Government acts, the children in those families will inevitably feel the effect, as parents are forced to cut back even more on food, heating and basic essentials.

“Increasing benefits in line with the expected inflation rate this Spring is the minimum protection needed and would send a signal to desperately worried families that they have not been forgotten.”

It comes as the charity explained that in spring food costs alone are set to be £26 a month higher than last year for families with children living in poverty.

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With energy bills due to soar with a 54% increase in April, CPAG have said low income families face £35 extra each month in energy costs, even with the government’s mitigation measures factored in.

The same families will spend around three times the share of their income on energy, compared to better off families who will only pay out around 5% of their total income.

Existing data shows lone parent families in poverty face having to spend around £1 in every £4 of their disposable income to use the same amount of energy this April, even after the government’s council tax rebate scheme is factored in.

Meanwhile, couple-families in poverty will spend £1 in every £7. Dickie welcomed the Scottish government’s decision to double the Scottish child payment from April but called for more action.

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He added: “Here in Scotland the Scottish child payment is providing much needed extra support to many, many families with children under six.

“The doubling of its value and roll out to all eligible under 16s really can’t come soon enough. But there is no question more is needed and we would urge Holyrood Ministers to go further to protect more families this Spring by also doubling the Scottish child bridging payments being made for school aged children.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are providing immediate support to over 144,000 school-age children through Bridging Payments. They are worth £520 in 2021 and 2022, ahead of the extension of the Scottish Child Payment to under 16s by the end of the year.

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“We will double the Scottish Child Payment to £20 per week from April – four times more than campaigners originally asked for.

“Combined with our three Best Start Grants and Best Start Foods, we will provide £8400 of financial support for low income families by the time their first child turns six – unparalleled across the UK.

“We know families are struggling with the impact of the rising cost of living which is why we are taking action through our £41 million Winter Support Fund and our £290 million package of measures, including £150 for all households in receipt of Council Tax Reduction and those in Council Tax bands A-D.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “We know this has been a challenging time for many people, which is why we’re providing support worth around £12bn this financial year and next, to help households with the cost of living.

"This includes putting an average of £1,000 more per year into the pockets of working families via changes to Universal Credit and boosting the minimum wage by more than £1000 a year for full-time workers. We have also announced a further £9bn to protect against the impact of rising global energy prices.

“Our £500 million household support fund is helping the most vulnerable with essential costs this winter, £35 million is supporting schools in disadvantaged areas to provide breakfasts to those who need it, and our Holiday Activities and Food programme is providing healthy food and enriching activities to disadvantaged children.

“Meanwhile, the Scottish Parliament has significant welfare powers and can top up existing benefits, pay discretionary payments and create entirely new benefits in areas of devolved responsibility."