Faith leaders urge Scottish Government to top up Child Benefit

Topping up child benefit by £5 a week equates to seven breakfasts of cereal, milk, fruit juice and a banana over two months, the Moderator of the General Assembly has said.

Right Rev Dr Derek Browning said the extra income for families might also be used to buy a good quality winter coat or enable children to take part in a school trip or an out-of-school activity each week.

Derek Browning
Right Rev Dr Derek Browning, Moderator of the General Assembly, signed the Give Me Five pledge.

He made the remarks this week at the official launch of the Give Me Five campaign, which is calling for child benefit to be increased to lift 30,000 children out of poverty.

Campaigners are urging the Scottish Government to use its new powers to make a real difference to the lives of families.

The government’s Budget for 2017-18 is £32 billion and the Church believes the £256 million cost of delivering the initiative is a worthwhile and valuable investment.

Dr Browning said the theme of his moderatorial year is based around the idea of hospitality adding, “When in a position of privilege, it is better to build a longer table than a higher wall.”

The ecumenical and interfaith Give Me Five campaign is backed by a range of organisations including the Catholic Church.

Shameful

Speaking at the launch, William Nolan, Bishop of Galloway and Bishop and President of the Justice and Peace Scotland Commission, said: “A lack of willingness to challenge inequality is failing our young people.

“When the Scottish Parliament was established nearly two decades ago, it was with the hope of providing Scottish solutions to Scottish problems.

“And this is a problem for Scotland in 2017.

“We live in the sixth wealthiest nation on the planet and yet 260,000 of our children are living in poverty.

“That is one in four children – the largest proportion of any European country.

“Their life chances and opportunities are damaged, their formative years marked by worries and want.
“It is a profound shame to us that this situation exists.”

Derek Browning and William Nolan
Dr Browning and William Nolan, Bishop of Galloway and Bishop and President of the Justice and Peace Scotland Commission with campaigners.

John Dickie, Director of Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said topping up Child Benefit would make a “huge difference.”

“We are delighted to see so much support for this call as part of action needed to make progress towards ending child poverty,” he added.

“We are interested in preventing child poverty and child benefit helps ensure that all families have the resources they need to give their children a decent start in life.

“We see topping up child benefit as being an extraordinary opportunity in Scotland to make a game changing intervention.”

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