Poorest Scots set for bleakest winter

Det23

Pandemic has exacerbated their problems

14th September 2020 by Robert Armour 1 Comment

A new report published by Action for Children today (14 September) warns of a bleak winter, with thousands of families already struggling to feed and clothe their children set to be plunged further into financial crisis.

Since lockdown began, the charity has been running an emergency appeal which has supported over 10,000 vulnerable children across the UK. While thousands of vulnerable families struggled even before coronavirus hit, a new wave of families have found themselves in dire straits virtually overnight because of falling incomes and rising household costs. 71% of those accessing the appeal said they had no financial issues before the pandemic.

Of those accessing the fund, a third spent money on food and clothes and a third on educational tools. More than 80% of Action for Children staff said they have also needed to provide extra emotional support for parents, with two thirds providing extra emotional support for children, and many have had to work longer or unusual hours to get families and children the support they need.

During lockdown, Action for Children was able to provide support to vulnerable families through its own Emergency Appeal fund as well as through funding from the Scottish Government’s Wellbeing Fund. The latter provided the charity with over £500,000 to give to some of the families most affected by Covid. However, as it launches its End Childhood Crisis campaign, the charity is warning that a generation of children are at risk of being scarred by poverty and now the pandemic.

Paul Carberry, Action for Children Director for Scotland, said: “We’re now six months into the pandemic, which shows little sign of a letting up, and our latest report further highlights the scale of the effect on families here in Scotland and across the UK.

“During lockdown we’ve been able to distribute money from our own Emergency Appeal fund as well as the Scottish Government’s Wellbeing Fund to support families most in need. However, the crisis will continue to hurt families for many years to come.

“With the furlough scheme ending, many of this families will be plunged into an even deeper crisis. I echo calls made by colleagues across the UK for the Westminster Government to extend the £20 a week increase in Universal Credit beyond next Spring. This will make a big difference to families in Scotland and across the UK.”

Andrea and her family live in the Scottish Borders and have been supported by Action for Children over the last few months. The family had been surviving on universal credit and free school meals, so when Coronavirus hit, they really started to struggle.

Andrea said: “We had to sit down and rethink how we would budget as we didn’t have that income we were used to anymore. We had to make cuts, but we could get by. And then coronavirus hit. The children used to both get school meals, and they were still available, but you had to travel to the school to get them. We didn’t have any way of getting there to collect the free school meals because we couldn’t afford that extra fuel.”

“And then we couldn’t get to the supermarket, so we were having to go to the small shop. And with everyone wiping the shelves, there were not any affordable essentials left. Our budget would allow for the cheapest pasta at 25p but because of the situation, there was only the expensive stuff left. It might not sound like a lot but that adds up and we don’t have savings.”

When the charity’s Emergency Fund became available, Andrea's worker got in touch and let her know she was going to apply on her behalf. Andrea added: “When we got the call, honestly we were so excited. We got £200 and that meant we could get fuel to go to the shop. We were also able to get a big shop to get food on the table.”

“Nobody is going to escape from the impact of this, Andrea said. “It is difficult for everyone because we are all on top of one another. It’s quite a scary time. We don’t have any family support around us or that can help us when it gets difficult, we are on our own and having that support from Action for Children, I can’t put into words how grateful I am.”

14th September 2020 by Gillian Dunn

Sorry. Don’t mean to criticise, I am an avid follower. But I think you should avoid using the word Scots or Scottish people when referring to the people of Scotland. A large proportion of people living in Scotland are not Scots or Scottish. It may seem like unnecessary semantics but I feel quite strongly about this. The issues you refer to apply to all the people of Scotland not just Scots. Nicola Sturgeon is very careful when choosing her words and it never feels or sounds awkward. Thank you for listening.