Programme for Government to include Scottish Child Payment increase and potential rent freeze

Programme for Government to include Scottish Child Payment increase and potential rent freeze

The First Minister said the Programme for Government will help households and businesses

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will set out a raft of actions today in a Programme for Government designed to help people through the cost emergency, including an increase to the Scottish Child Payment and a rumoured rent freeze for tenants.

Reports in the Daily Record today suggest Ms Sturgeon is expected to announce a rent freeze for tenants during a statement to Holyrood this afternoon.

One parliamentary source said if the cost of a freeze was met by landlords the policy would cost the Scottish Government nothing.

Labour MSP Mercedes Villalba, who led a campaign for such a freeze earlier this year before it was rejected by SNP/Green ministers, said: “We have the most right wing Tory government at Westminster since the Thatcher years, with the new Prime Minister Liz Truss openly stating that she supports ‘Thatcherite’ 1980s style tax cuts for the wealthiest.

“Against this backdrop, it’s welcome that the First Minister appears to be planning to introduce a rent freeze.

“If the Scottish Government had not used its overall majority to block my proposal for a rent freeze earlier this year, the most hard pressed in our communities could already have had a month of relief from increases imposed by landlords.”

Today’s package will also include an increase in Scottish Child Payment to £25 per eligible child per week from 14 November, with the anti-poverty benefit also opening to applications for all eligible under-16s from that date.

The First Minister said she is determined to help households and businesses cope with a “humanitarian crisis that will cost lives”. She has also called on the UK Government to take urgent action as it holds most of the key policy levers and resources to fully address the crisis.

Speaking ahead of her statement to Parliament on the 2022-23 Programme for Government, the First Minister said: “The Scottish Child Payment is unique to Scotland, the most ambitious child poverty reduction measure in the UK and an important action to mitigate the growing cost emergency. We doubled the payment to £20 per week per child in April and the further increase to £25 from November means a rise of 150% in less than eight months.

“Around 104,000 children currently in receipt of Scottish Child Payment will have it automatically increased to £25 per week. All new eligible under 16s will also benefit from the £25 rate, with all payments backdated to the date their application is received.

“Through this year’s Programme for Government we will take every action, within the financial means and legislative powers at our disposal, to help people through this humanitarian crisis that will cost lives.

“The most significant powers to tackle this crisis rest squarely with the UK Government and their inaction has compounded the difficulties everyone is facing.

“In the absence of a plan from the incoming Prime Minister we have a clear set of actions which the UK Government could take now, and should have taken already, to begin to address the crisis. These include an immediate cancellation of the October price cap rise and an uprating of benefits. 

“The last few months have made it abundantly clear Scotland cannot rely on the UK Government to support people in Scotland through this crisis. It is vital they have a choice over their future.

“Make no mistake, we will continue to act where others have not to help people and businesses - and the UK Government needs to follow our example.”

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