Low-income families in Scotland are “significantly better off” than those in England thanks to decisions by the SNP Government, the Centre of Research on Social Policy at Loughborough University has said.
The report added that it was “encouraging” that devolved powers had “made a substantial and not a negligible difference.”
It found that the combined value of Scottish benefits meant the cost of bringing up a child in Scotland was 31% lower than elsewhere in the UK.
Nevertheless, the income of the average two child family in Scotland on out-of-work benefits still falls about 30% short of meeting their needs. The gap is 40% in the rest of the UK.
Professor Donald Hirsh, author of the report, said:
“The rising cost of raising a child and the failure in recent years to match this with improvements in help from the state has left many families in the UK struggling to make ends meet.
“This report shows however that in Scotland, families are significantly better off in this regard, as a result of Scottish Government policies seeking to address the problem, and also childcare costs that have not risen as fast as in England.
“Benefit levels still remain well below what families need but it is encouraging to see Scottish policies that make a substantial difference for families.”
Major differences between Scottish and UK government policy include free school meals for children in P4-P7, free bus travel for under 22s, the Scottish child payment, best start grants and school clothing grants.
The report was commissioned by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).
John Dickie, director of CPAG Scotland, said:
“This new analysis shows just how big a difference long campaigned for policies like the doubling of the Scottish child payment and roll out of universal free school meals will make.
“Scotland really is making progress tackling child poverty, but as the cost of living soars families need extra help now if they are to stay afloat this year. That means every level of government must step up to the plate.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“We have a long way to go to eliminate child poverty and the UK Government’s welfare cuts haven’t helped, leaving the SNP Government to mitigate the bedroom tax, council tax relief and create our own benefits from the areas of social security now devolved.
“Of course, the best way to eliminate child poverty is to have a strong and growing economy with a highly skilled and well paid workforce and that is what we are striving for.”
The report can be viewed here.