THE new Scottish Child Payment is “already making a difference” to children living in poverty, the director of a leading children's charity has said.

The Child Poverty Action Group comments come in the wake of the release of the latest official child poverty data at the UK and Scotland levels.

Statistics released by the DWP this week, though less reliable than usual due to difficulties with data collection over the course of the pandemic, nevertheless align with independent forecasts and indicate that an estimated 400,000 children across the UK were pulled out of relative poverty in 2020/21, when Universal Credit was increased by £20 per week.

However, the UK Government’s cut to this uplift in October 2021 is believed to have pushed those children back into poverty.

READ MORE: Scottish Child Payment to increase to £25 per week by end of 2022

Coupled with Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s refusal to increase benefits in line with inflation from April, child poverty campaigners have argued that children remain more likely to be in poverty than working-age adults or pensioners.

According to CPAG, the new figures – which show that, at 3.9 million, the number of children in poverty across the UK was still 300,000 higher than in 2010-11 – demonstrate that investment in social security is the most efficient way of reducing child poverty and supporting struggling households.

Despite there being insufficient data for official Scottish poverty statistics to be published for 2018-21, the Scottish Government has released an analytical report on the existing data around "persistent poverty" for transparency. This suggests that one in ten children in Scotland lived in poverty for three of the four years leading up to 2020.

Commenting, CPAG in Scotland director John Dickie said: “The latest data on child poverty at Scotland and UK level is another stark reminder of the urgent need to support family incomes.

“The temporary £20 increase to Universal Credit shows that government has the power to protect children from poverty. But many of the children who were lifted out of poverty by that increase have already been forced back over the brink by the UK Government’s decision to end the uplift.

"And, in a week when the Chancellor said he was comfortable with his choices, it looks like UK ministers have turned their backs on low-income families."

“Here in Scotland,” Dickie added, “the better news is that we know that the new Scottish Child Payment is already making a difference. Once fully rolled out and increased to £25 it will substantially cut the number of children living in poverty.

“It’s now vital that take-up of the new payment is maximised, it is rolled out as soon as possible and the wider actions to improve income from paid work set out in the Scottish Government’s new child poverty delivery plan are implemented effectively.”

As part of the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act, the Scottish Government is committed to reducing relative child poverty to less than 18% by 2023-24, and to less than 10% by the end of the decade.

In addition to the Scottish Child Payment increase, the Scottish Government will also provide an extra £53 million to employment services, increase access to childcare, and has created a new £15 million transitions fund to support parents going into work.