Categories
Business Carers Children Education

Increased Support for Childminders

Payments will support business sustainability.

Grants of £750 are being paid to all registered childminders in Scotland in order to secure the sustainability of their businesses.

Funding of more than £3.2 million has been made available to ensure that all childminders registered with the Care Inspectorate will receive the flat-rate payment.

While up to £1 million had been planned for need-assessed grants, additional resource has been invested to ensure payments can be made to all registered childminders. This will simplify and speed up the process, ensuring the money reaches those that need it as quickly as possible.

Children’s Minister Maree Todd said:

“Childminders are a vital and valued part of our childcare sector, providing high quality care and learning in a safe and nurturing environment.

“Just as many other childcare providers have experienced financial pressures as a result of the pandemic and the restrictions that have been placed on them, childminders too have raised genuine concern about the future sustainability of their businesses.

“I’m pleased that we have been able to increase the funding available to support the profession, and by simplifying the process we will be able to get the funds to those who need them more quickly.”

Background

Information about support for the childcare sector

Childminding Action Plan

Categories
Children Coronavirus Social Security

Dundee Benefits from £100 COVID Winter Payments

£542,200 PAID TO FAMILIES IN DUNDEE CITY FROM SCOTTISH WINTER HARDSHIP FUND

5,422 FAMILIES RECEIVE £100 WINTER PAYMENT

5,422 families in Dundee City have received a £100 COVID winter hardship payment to support them through one of the most difficult winters in living memory.

New figures show that the SNP Government provided support to thousands in each of Scotland’s local authorities – with more than £14million paid out to families in December.

In Dundee City £542,200 was paid out to 5,422 families.

The payment, announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, was made available to families who were in receipt of free school meals and was paid from 30th November to the start of the winter school holidays.

Commenting, SNP MSP Joe FitzPatrick said:

“With the Scottish Government rolling out the Scottish Child Payment and supporting hundreds of thousands of families across Scotland with the £100 COVID winter hardship payment, the SNP is making a real difference to people’s lives and lifting children out of poverty.

“This has been an incredibly difficult time for families in Dundee City who may have faced lost earnings, increased food bills and cold weather. The £100 winter payment will hopefully have eased the financial strain many have been facing.

“In contrast to the Tories at Westminster, the SNP Scottish Government is doing all it can to ensure kids who receive free school meals do not go hungry.

“Alongside introducing the Scottish Child Payment, Best Start Grant and Best Food Grants, this SNP Government is committed to supporting children, whereas the Tories are planning to slash Universal Credit and get rid of the £20 uplift when families need it most.

“The only way Scotland can escape Westminster austerity and build a social security system based on dignity, fairness and respect is by becoming an independent country.”

Categories
Children Coronavirus Social Security

New Scottish Child Payment

Payments to start from late February.

More than 77,000 Scottish Child Payment applications have been received since Social Security Scotland started taking applications on 9 November.

The new benefit, which is unique to Scotland, will give qualifying parents and carers £40 every four weeks for each child under six.

The benefit starts today, meaning that Social Security Scotland is now able to do final eligibility checks and start issuing decisions.

The first decisions and payments will arrive from later this month.

Parents and carers who have not yet applied and have a child under six are encouraged to apply as soon as possible to get the maximum amount of money they are entitled to.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“This is a fantastic response to our new payment. Today marks the day that parents and carers will become eligible for Scottish Child Payment. We’ve had a great response and this is a very large number of applications. It will take time to work through these applications and I’d like to ask families for their patience while we work as quickly as we can to process these.

“The Scottish Child Payment is the most ambitious anti-poverty measure currently being undertaken anywhere in the UK. Announced in late June 2019 the new payment has been achieved at great speed.

“In 2021-22 we will invest £3.6 billion in social security payments supporting carers, young people, and low income families including £68 million for this new payment. Significantly more families are now relying on benefits due to the pandemic – some perhaps for the first time. Scottish Child Payment will help lift children in Scotland out of poverty.

“We are proactively promoting this payment and we have written to everyone on the Universal Credit and HMRC tax credit databases who may be eligible to invite them to apply. .

“Covid-19 restrictions continue to put additional pressure on parents and carers and I recognise how busy families are. But I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who hasn’t yet applied, to take ten minutes to get their application in – it’s vital that people get the money they are entitled to.”

Scottish Child Payment has been introduced ahead of schedule for children under six by building on the existing infrastructure for Best Start Grant payments. The payment is planned to be fully rolled out to children under the age of 16 by the end of 2022. This is subject to data on qualifying benefits being received from the DWP to enable Social Security Scotland to make top-up payments.

Background

  • Application numbers are the latest figures available and correct as of Sunday 7 February.
  • People, who supplied their mobile number, will be kept up to date on the progress of their application by text.
  • People who apply from Tuesday 16 February will have their payment calculated from the day that they apply.
  • Scottish Fiscal Commission reviewed their forecasts in January 2021 to reflect how many families were taking up qualifying benefits from the DWP. The total figure of children forecast to be eligible for Scottish Child Payment in 2020-21 was revised slightly down to 173,000. The total number of households changed to 138,000.
  • Social Security Scotland delivers a number of benefits for families. This includes Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment, Early Learning Payment, School Age Payment and Best Start Foods. Applications can be made for Scottish Child Payment and all of these using a single straightforward form.
  • Scottish Child Payment together with the three Best Start Grant payments and Best Start Foods could give families on low incomes up to £5,200 by the time their first child turns six.
  • People can apply by visiting mygov.scot/benefits or calling 0800 182 2222.
  • Scottish Child Payment is a new benefit and it is in addition to the UK wide Child Benefit.
  • To get advice on what benefits may be available parents and carers can access free, confidential advice through Money Talk Team. Visit Parentclub.scot to find out more.
Categories
Children Community Safety Coronavirus Education Health Public Health

New Measures to Tackle Virus

Supervised quarantine and expansion of testing as gradual schools return announced.

A series of new measures aimed at driving down coronavirus (COVID-19) rates in Scotland have been announced.

Current restrictions, including the ‘stay-at-home’ requirement, are set to remain in place until at least the end of February and schools will continue to be closed to most children for the rest of this month.

Nurseries and Primaries 1 to 3 are, however, now scheduled to return full-time on 22 February, subject to final confirmation two weeks from now that sufficient progress in tackling the virus has been achieved.

In an update to Parliament the First Minister confirmed that a managed quarantine system for anyone who arrives directly into Scotland regardless of which country they have come from will be introduced as soon as practicably possible.

In addition to guarding against the increased importation of new cases, access to testing to find cases and interrupt transmission already taking place in Scotland will be stepped up:

  • from the middle of February, routine testing of healthcare workers will be expanded to cover patient-facing primary care workers such as GPs, dentists, optometrists and pharmacists, as will testing for all patient-facing staff who work in hospices
  • from later this month, regular testing will be offered to support the return to schools and nurseries. Senior phase secondary school students, and all staff in primary, secondary and special schools, including school-based ELC staff, will be able to benefit from routine at-home testing two times a week
  • certain workplaces where the risk of transmission is greater and which provide essential or critical services, such as those within the food processing and distribution sectors and staff within emergency service control rooms, will also be supported to introduce routine workforce testing
  • targeted community testing will continue to be expanded – so that testing is available to people locally, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms
  • from mid-February tests will also be offered to all close contacts of people who have tested positive for COVID-enabling Test and Protect teams to identify their contacts and track, and break further, chains of transmission

In order to promote people’s ability to self-isolate when necessary, financial support will be significantly expanded to include all workers earning the Real Living Wage or less, as well as those in receipt of a council tax reduction because of low income. The £500 Self-Isolation Support Grant will also be extended to people who cannot work because someone they have caring responsibilities for is asked to self-isolate.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“As levels of the virus continue to fall in Scotland, it becomes ever more important that we stop the virus from being imported again. The threat of new variants is real and we must be ever-more vigilant.

“That is why we intend to introduce a managed quarantine requirement for anyone who arrives directly into Scotland, regardless of which country they have come from.

“We want to work with the UK Government to avoid travellers sidestepping restrictions and arriving in other parts of the UK before travelling to Scotland, however the most effective approach to prevent this and to stop new variants being imported is for the UK Government to introduce a compulsory quarantine for anyone travelling into the UK from overseas.

“Since we still have work to do these measures will not be introduced this week and more detail will follow shortly.

“We believe that targeted community testing can play a particularly valuable role in communities where prevalence is starting to rise rapidly which is why we have expanded our testing programme to identify cases and break chains of transmission.

“Lockdown is starting to slow down the virus. But we also need to pick up the pace in our vaccination programme. We are doing that and will accelerate the programme further over the next fortnight – providing that we have sufficient supplies of the vaccine – as we work towards being able to vaccinate 400,000 people a week by the end of the month. We are making rapid progress in protecting those who are most at risk from COVID-19.”

On schooling, the First Minister added:

“I am acutely aware of the pressure school closures is putting on working parents and on family life more generally.

“Our room for manoeuvre, given the current state of the pandemic, is limited. But the government is determined to use every inch of headroom we have to get children back to school.

“Based on the advice of our expert advisers, if we all agree to abide with the lockdown restrictions for a bit longer so that our progress in suppressing the virus continues, we can begin a phased, albeit gradual, return to school from 22 February.”

Background

Coronavirus (COVID-19): stay at home guidance – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

Community testing schemes have already been agreed across seven local authorities, within the health board areas of Fife, Grampian and Ayrshire and Arran, with agreed community testing proposals across the majority of mainland Local Authority areas expected to be agreed by the end of the week.

Categories
Children Community Coronavirus Social Security

Tackling Poverty and Inequality

Increased Budget investment for a Fairer Scotland.

Tackling deep-seated poverty and inequality will be supported by increased funding from the 2021-22 Scottish Budget.

To ensure all children have the best start in life, £68 million will be invested in the Scottish Child Payment, and £53 million will fund universal Free School Meals to all children in primary one, two and three.

Communities impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will continue to be supported through funds aimed at helping them recover and rebuild.

The 2021-22 Scottish Budget includes:

  • a near doubling of spending through the Tackling Child Poverty fund with £23.3 million of investment, and providing £6 million to local authorities to continue providing a school clothing grant worth at least £100 to every eligible child
  • £3.6 billion for social security to carers and those on low incomes
  • £150 million for fuel poverty and energy efficiency measures
  • £711.6 million for affordable housing and a new £55 million programme to support town centres
  • £32 million to promote equality and human rights, including actions to ensure this approach is embedded across government and the wider public sector
  • £15 million to further support children and young people with Additional Support Needs
  • more than £26 million of investment in the vital Third Sector
  • £81.6 million for projects to support community regeneration, town centres and 20 minute neighbourhoods – where people can meet their needs within a 20 minute walk from their home
  • over £12 million to support the Ending Homelessness Together action plan, including specific actions to scale up Housing First, end the use of communal night shelters, advance legislative protections for people experiencing domestic abuse and explore alternative routes to reduce migrant homelessness


Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“We are putting tackling poverty at the heart of the Budget. In two weeks we introduce our new game-changing Scottish Child Payment, backed by investment of £68 million.

“As well as mitigating the impact of UK Government welfare cuts, we are supporting carers, young people, and low income families through our range of new benefits. This year also sees the start of the introduction of the first disability benefits as we continue to establish a social security system that is based on dignity and respect and investing in our people.”

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said:

“In addition to responding to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, this budget is investing in actions designed to tackle deep-seated poverty and inequality including almost doubling our child poverty budget to £23.3 million. This means we will deliver our £50 million Tackling Child Poverty Fund commitment in full, continuing with investment in actions including our Parental Employability Support Fund, Access to Childcare Fund and innovative Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland programme.

“Funding for more affordable, greener housing is at the heart of the Scottish Budget, contributing to our net-zero ambitions while helping to ensure everyone has a home that meets their needs.

“We will also invest over £26 million in the local and national Third Sector infrastructure, support the capacity and growth of social enterprises, and ensure the Third Sector can help people and communities recover from the impact of the pandemic.”

Background

Scottish Budget

Equality and Fairer Scotland Budget Statement

Communities and Local Government 

Categories
Children Coronavirus Education Health Mental Health

Physical and Emotional Welfare of Children

COVID support for teachers.

Hundreds of teachers who are new in post, or working in pastoral or child protection roles, are to be offered support to manage the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Education Scotland and the General Teaching Council for Scotland have partnered with social enterprise organisation KnowYouMore who will provide coaches for the new online one-to-one sessions. Sessions are already being offered to headteachers as part of a support package funded by the Scottish Government in 2020.

The new programme now includes support for more than 500 teachers in their first four years of post-probation to discuss any personal or professional pressures they are facing as a result of delivering remote learning.

Education Secretary John Swinney, said:

“COVID-19 has placed unprecedented strain on school staff and none more so than those who have pastoral care and child protection responsibilities ensuring the emotional welfare of our children and young people as we recover from the pandemic.

“The teacher support package I announced last year will complement the existing professional training and support already taking place for staff in schools across Scotland. Teachers need to be part of a supportive online community and have the space to stop and think about issues that are causing concern.”

Gayle Gorman, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education and Education Scotland Chief Executive, said:

“Education Scotland is fully committed to ensuring the education workforce feel supported and I’m delighted this next phase of our coaching and mentoring offer is available more widely.

“We have found that it really benefits teachers to know there is someone with a listening ear who are there for them. Our 1:1 coaching and mentoring sessions for Headteachers have proved a really popular way of supporting their wellbeing and now the offer is also open to post probation teachers, teachers new to role and those with pastoral responsibilities. I would encourage more practitioners to sign up.”

Ken Muir, Chief Executive, of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, said:

“GTC Scotland is pleased to be working with our partners in education to deliver this important coaching to support hard-pressed teachers who are doing all they can to maintain quality learning in challenging circumstances. In addition to this coaching, GTC Scotland itself has invested heavily in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of education professionals and will continue to do so throughout the pandemic.”

Background

In September, 2020, the Scottish Government offered school staff new support as part of a £1.5 million funding package to help manage additional pressures as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Categories
Children Coronavirus Education

Extra Remote Learning Funding for Schools

More teachers, digital devices and support for families.

A new package of £45 million will help local authorities to provide support to schools and families as they deal with the challenges of remote learning during lockdown, Education Secretary John Swinney confirmed today.

Councils may use the funding – sufficient to fund 2,000 additional teachers – for purposes including recruitment of additional staff, additional digital devices or to provide additional family support. This is on top of £160 million already committed for education recovery since the start of the pandemic, bringing the total additional support provided to more than £200 million since the start of the pandemic. Private and third sector day care of children settings will also receive almost £4 million in temporary financial support.

Mr Swinney has also asked HM Inspectors of Education to commence with a national review of the quality and effectiveness of remote learning across the country with the first report published next Friday, 22 January.

We will ensure all appropriate mitigations are in place to support a safe return including enhancing our testing programme in schools. We expect that pilots of two different testing models – one using in-school testing with Lateral Flow Devices (LFD), and another involving at-home testing using PCR tests – will begin in a small number of schools from next week.

Mr Swinney said:

“I appreciate only too well the additional burden home learning is placing on many of our children and their families. After the last period of school building closures we commissioned an Equity Audit, published today, to better understand the impact on children’s learning and health and wellbeing, particularly disadvantaged pupils.

“Since the start of the pandemic our funding has led to an additional 1,400 teachers and over 200 support staff being appointed. The new funding can be used to recruit further staff – which might include teachers, classroom assistants, administrative staff, home/school link workers or other support workers – as well as the resources that families and schools need to support home learning, including additional digital devices where there is any remaining unmet need, and other home learning resources.

“The quality and effectiveness of remote learning across the country will be reviewed by HM Inspectors of Education. A programme of ‘national overviews’, will commence immediately and last for the duration of remote learning. These will seek to identify what is working well and where further improvement is required. These overviews will be published weekly to ensure they are available for everyone to learn and build from, starting week ending 22 January.

“I am aware that remaining open for very small numbers of children creates pressure for some childcare providers, and I can therefore confirm we will make temporary financial support of up to £3.8 million available for each four week period of restrictions to day care of children providers and childminding settings caring for 12 or more children who remain open for vulnerable and keyworker children during these restrictions. We will confirm details as soon as possible.

“If the evidence tells us we can get some pupils back safely, we will do that, and we will ensure the package of mitigations in schools remains robust and tailored to the circumstances we face. As part of that work, we expect that pilots of two different testing models – one using in-school testing with Lateral Flow Devices, and another involving at-home testing using PCR tests – will begin in a small number of schools from next week, helping to inform options for wider rollout.

“I am grateful to our hardworking, dedicated teaching professionals for their intense work to plan, organise and deliver learning. The virus will be beaten, and schools will return fully to intensify our efforts to achieve excellence and equity for all of Scotland’s children.”

Background

Advice and support for parents and carers is available at the Parent Club.

The Equity Audit is available here.

Further information on the support for private and third sector childcare providers is available here.

Categories
Children Coronavirus Education Public Health

Remote Learning For Schools

Guidance for teachers and families published.

Guidance for teachers and families to support remote learning in schools has been published by Education Scotland.

It has been created in partnership through the Education Recovery Group and sets out a shared understanding of the key principles of remote learning, the support and resources available for teachers and families and what children and young people are entitled to.

This is in addition to remote learning guidance already produced by local authorities for schools to plan and prepare.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“Our national e-learning offer, launched in June 2020, is already strengthening the remote and e-learning option available to schools. All authorities and schools in Scotland are already able to access to live, recorded and supported learning resources, while more than 50,000 devices such as laptops have been distributed to children and young people to help with remote learning.

“I am grateful for the huge amount of work that has already been done to prepare for next week and more is being done in order to continuously improve the national remote learning offer. This guidance sets out a range of entitlements for children and young people during the period of remote learning. It highlights the importance of achieving an appropriate balance of live learning and independent activity and an entitlement to ongoing dialogue, reflection and feedback with teachers.”

Background

Read the guidance.

Categories
Children Coronavirus

40,000 Baby Boxes delivered

Support for new parents.

More than 40,000 Baby Boxes have been delivered to expectant parents this year.

It brings the total number delivered since the start of the scheme in August 2017 to 163,397.

The most recent available figures indicate that around 93% of expectant parents are taking up the opportunity to receive a Baby Box.

Children’s Minister Maree Todd said:

“The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has been challenging for all of us, and particularly so for expectant parents and new mums and dads. Face-to-face support from family and friends has had to be restricted for safety reasons and the pandemic has added to financial worries for many families.

“Supporting new parents this year especially has been vital. The Baby Box, which ensures that every family with a newborn has access to essential items, is part of our commitment to giving every child the best start in life.”

Jackie Tolland, Chief Executive of Parent Network Scotland, said:

“Having been involved in the Baby Box since its inception, I am really pleased that the feedback has been positive. We need to do everything we can as a country to ensure that all children receive the opportunity to have the best start in life.”

Background

Each box contains a large number of essential items for parents and babies, including a selection of clothes from newborn up to the age of six months, a digital thermometer, and bath towel. The box itself comes with a mattress and can be used as a safe sleep space.

Find out more at Parent Club Scotland 

Categories
Children Social Security

Child Disability Payment Pilot Areas Announced

Initial applications to be taken in three local authority areas.

Families of children with a disability or long term health condition living in Dundee City, Perth and Kinross and the Western Isles will be able to apply for Child Disability Payment from summer 2021. This new benefit will be available across Scotland from autumn 2021.

Child Disability Payment will replace Disability Living Allowance for Children, which is currently delivered through the Department for Work and Pensions.

This new support is there for families applying for disability assistance for the first time. Families currently getting Disability Living Allowance for Children from the Department for Work and Pensions will start to be transferred to the new Scottish system from 2021.

This is the second form of disability assistance to be delivered under the new Scottish social security system following the introduction of Child Winter Heating Assistance in November 2020.

Child Disability Payment is the first disability benefit to be introduced that will require people to submit an application. People will be able to apply for this payment by post, phone, online and face to face. This is the first time in Scotland that people will be able to apply for a disability benefit online.

To coincide with the introduction of Child Disability Payment, we will also launch our local delivery service. This means that from autumn 2021, when Child Disability payment is available for new applications across the country, people will be able to get advice and support on 11 Social Security Scotland administered benefits face-to-face at a location in their local community.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“Next year will be an important one for social security in Scotland as we start to deliver the more complex disability benefits and we see the introduction of face-to-face services.

“We’ve worked with people who will use this service to make sure it will meet their needs. This is what has led to make improvements like the introduction of an online application option and the availability of advice and support in local communities. This influence isn’t only evident in these big decisions, we’ve worked with people right down to details like how we word questions on our applications forms.

“Through building this system with the people who will use it, we hope to have a service that is as straightforward as possible for families to use. Parents and carers of a child who has a disability or long term health condition already experience a number of challenges and accessing the support that they are entitled to shouldn’t be another one.

“This initial pilot is a further chance to get people’s feedback and we look forward to hearing what our first disability benefit applicants have to say. We will continually invite input and adapt accordingly – this is key to making sure that we deliver the best possible service and that we have a system that treats everyone with dignity, fairness and respect.”

Background

  • Child Disability Payment will provide money to help with the extra care and mobility costs children and young people with a disability may have, up to the age of 18.
  • People who currently get UK Government disability benefits will be transferred to the new Scottish system in stages after the new benefits are introduced. This work is expected to be completed to the previously announced timeline of 2025.
  • Young people and children in Scotland who are currently getting Disability Living Allowance for children from the DWP will no longer need to apply for PIP when they turn 16. They will stay on Disability Living Allowance to age 18. 
  • Child Winter Heating Assistance  was the first disability assistance to be introduced by the Scottish Government. This is an annual £200 payment for children and young people who receive the highest rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance will help families meet day and night-time winter fuel costs.
  • From autumn 2021, Social Security Scotland will administer 11 benefits.
  • Carer’s Allowance Supplement
  • Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment
  • Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment
  • Best Start Grant School Age Payment
  • Best Start Foods
  • Funeral Support Payment
  • Young Carer Grant
  • Job Start Payment
  • Scottish Child Payment (for children under 6 years old)
  • Child Winter Heating Assistance
  • Child Disability Payment.
Categories
Children Coronavirus Public Health Social Security

Winter Support Fund for Families and Children

£100 million package will help communities at risk.

Funding to help people pay for food, heating, warm clothing and shelter during the winter is part of a new £100m support package.

The fund will help those on low incomes, children and people at risk of homelessness or social isolation cope with winter weather and the economic impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) and Brexit.

The Winter Plan for Social Protection, announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, will also address domestic abuse and digital exclusion.

COVID-19 has had a significant negative effect on Scotland’s economy hitting jobs and living standards hard – and Brexit will exacerbate the situation.

With winter approaching, some of Scotland’s most at-risk communities are facing rising costs for food, fuel and other essentials.

Key elements of the plan include:

  • £22m for low income families including £16m to give the low income families of an estimated 156,000 children in receipt of free school meals a one-off £100 payment by Christmas
  • £23.5m to help vulnerable children through additional support for residential and care homes, social work, and the Children’s Hearing system
  • £15m for the Communities and Third Sector Recovery Programme to support the work of local organisations
  • £5.9m to promote digital inclusion for older people, support social isolation and loneliness and to promote equality
  • £7m to help people who are struggling to pay fuel bills
  • £5m to help those at risk of homelessness find a settled home

The Winter Plan for Social Protection also includes £15m of flexible funding for local authorities entering COVID-19 protection level 4 – announced by the First Minister earlier this month – which can be used to pay for food and essentials.

The First Minister said:

“We will shortly become the only part of the UK to give low income families an extra £10 per week for every child – initially for children up to age 6 and then for every child up to age 16.

“This has been described as a game changer in the fight to end child poverty. The first payments will be made in February, but I know that for families struggling now, February is still a long way off.

“So I am announcing today a £100 million package to bridge that gap, and help others struggling most with the impact of COVID over the winter months.

“It will include money to help people pay their fuel bills and make sure children don’t go hungry. It will offer additional help for the homeless, and fund an initiative to get older people online and connected. And it will provide a cash grant of £100 for every family with children in receipt of free school meals.

“The money will be paid before Christmas and families can use it for whatever will help them through the winter.

“That could be food, new shoes or a winter coat for the kids. Families will know best what they need – that’s not for government to decide.

“Initiatives like this are not just about providing practical help to those who need it most – they are an expression of our values and of the kind of country we are seeking to build.”

Background

The £100m Winter Plan for Social Protection has been developed to mitigate social harms posed by the concurrent risks of COVID-19, winter cost of living increases and EU exit, as well as to promote equality and human rights.

The full breakdown of the £100m fund is:

Support for families on low incomes (£22m)

Supporting services for children and young people (£23.5m)

Enhancing capacity within the third sector and communities (£15m)

Funds for local authorities moving into level 4 (£15m)

Further help with fuel costs (£7m)

Further investment in strategic national food activity (£2m)

Further investment to support people affected by homelessness (£5.14m)

Increased digital inclusion through Connecting Scotland for older people, support for social isolation and loneliness and strategic investment to promote equality (£5.91m)

A campaign on benefit uptake and income maximisation (£0.25m)

Reserve fund to meet potential pressures (£4.2m)

Categories
Children Education Health

SNP Announce Free School Meals For All Primary School Pupils

“Progressive vision to tackle poverty in the face of Tory cuts”

SNP MSP Joe FitzPatrick has welcomed the announcement that every primary school pupil in Dundee will be eligible for free school meals, all year around, if the SNP is re-elected in May.

Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, set out this latest step in the drive to tackle child poverty and make Scotland the first nation in the UK to offer universal free primary school meals at the SNP annual conference this weekend.

The SNP previously extended eligibility for a free school lunch to all P1 to P3 pupils while P4 to P7 pupils are eligible based on a range of income and benefits criteria.

Now, in the face of predictions that Westminster cuts will drive child poverty rates even higher, the expansion – estimated to cost around £230 million per year in additional expenditure – will introduce a free year-round breakfast and lunch for all primary school pupils from August 2022.

SNP MSP Joe FitzPatrick said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has put real financial pressure on families, and it’s right that the Scottish Government ensured that children in Dundee would continue to receive free school meals over the holidays.

“But we will not stop there. If the SNP is re-elected in May, every single primary school pupil in Dundee will be eligible for free breakfast and lunch, all year round.

“And unlike the Tories, we didn’t have to be publicly shamed and condemned into choosing to feed hungry children – that is the basic duty of any government.

“This ambitious expansion of the free school meals scheme is the next step in our battle to stop the Tories forcing more and more kids into poverty, support families, and make Scotland the best place to grow up.

“That progressive vision, underpinned by human rights, equality and wellbeing, is exactly why people in Scotland continue to put their faith in the SNP.”

Categories
Children Education

Majority Of Children Receiving Expanded ELC

Expansion progress report published.

The majority of eligible children are now receiving the full 1,140 hours of funded early learning and childcare (ELC) and more than 80% are receiving more than 600 hours.

Latest data from the Improvement Service, compiled in August, shows that more than 56,000 children (61 per cent of those eligible) are already receiving 1,140 hours of funded ELC, despite the statutory expansion being paused in April to give local authorities the flexibility to focus on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, 87% of the additional staff forecast to be required for the expansion are now in place.

Children’s Minister Maree Todd said:

“I’m pleased to see that despite the impact of the pandemic, the majority of children are getting the full 1,140 hours of funded, high quality childcare – almost doubling what was previously provided.

“Overall, more than 93,000 children are benefitting from the high quality care and learning provided by our fantastic ELC practitioners. This is a great achievement by all involved.

“The pandemic has had an obvious impact on construction and recruitment plans across the country, however local authorities are making good progress to get back on track and we will continue to support them to do so.

“We have always been clear that the suspension of the statutory duty on local authorities to provide 1,140 hours is a pause, not a stop. We will agree a new delivery date with local government before the end of this year and continue to work with partners to deliver this transformational policy.”

COSLA’s Education and Young Person Spokesperson Councillor Stephen McCabe said:

“Local Government’s main concern throughout this whole pandemic and indeed always is to put the needs of our children and young people first. We took the difficult decision jointly with the Scottish Government to pause implementation of the 1140 hours ELC expansion as the pandemic disrupted plans. We are working closely with the Scottish Government to agree a timeline to reinstate the national duty for 1140 .

“Despite the challenges in construction projects and recruitment issues Councils have worked hard to create additional places and a number of Councils are already offering 1140 hours of funded provision, with more coming online in the months ahead.”

Background

The report can be found at Early Learning and Childcare Expansion Delivery Progress Report .

Data returned by local authorities indicates that 93,438 children were accessing funded ELC as of the end of August 2020.

Of these, 74,870 children (80%) were accessing more than the current statutory entitlement of 600 hours, and 56,697 children (61%) were accessing 1140 hours funded ELC.

Constituents can check whether they are eligible and apply online at mygov.scot/benefits/.