Campaigners against child poverty are urging the Scottish government to raise its child payment to £30 per week ahead of its budget which will be announced tomorrow. 

The Child Poverty Action Group says the increase must be made to protect lower income families who are struggling and who will not benefit from the proposed council tax freeze. 

The Scottish child payment provides extra support to low income families who have children under 16, with no limit on how many children can benefit.

It was introduced in 2021 at a rate of £10 per child to be paid weekly, and has increased to now stand at £25. 

Child Poverty Action Group’s call to raise it by at least a further £5 per week by April 2024 would cost the Scottish Government £58 million. 

However it says that according to its analysis, in order to bring the child poverty line to the interim target that was set for 2023/24, a £40 Scottish child payment would be needed. 

On the eve of the budget, the Scottish Government has already said it will wipe school meal debt, with a one-off fund for councils to pay it off. 

Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth announced the £1.8m measure in parliament today, saying it will help families struggling to keep up with the cost of living crisis. 

Read more: Scottish Budget: 'Size and shape' of public sector needs to change

The Child Poverty Action Group says a rise in the child payment would particularly help families with more than two children who are impacted by the UK government’s two-child benefit cap, which prevents parents from claiming child tax credit or universal credit for any third or subsequent child born after April 2017. 

Charities across the UK have called on the two-child cap to be abolished. Labour provoked controversy earlier this year when Sir Keir Starmer said the party would keep the policy if elected. 

The Child Poverty Action Group Scotland’s calls ahead of the budget have been supported by the Children and Young People’s Commissioner as well as over 150 trade unions, faith groups and charity organisations across Scotland are also supporting the proposed rise. 

Last month, all of these groups penned an open letter to First Minister Humza Yousaf demanding the increase. 

During his successful campaign for the SNP leadership, Yousaf said he wanted to raise the payment to the same figure suggested by the campaigners during his first budget. 

In a briefing sent to all MSPs ahead of the budget, the Child Poverty Action Group said that raising the payment to £30 per week is the “minimum extra investment that is needed to support lower income families and demonstrate the First Minister is genuinely ‘shifting the dial’ on child poverty.”

Read more: Budget Scotland: Cosla calls for investment to tackle poverty

John Dickie, Director of Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said: “Struggling families desperately need a budget that will provide immediate support as well as help meet statutory child poverty targets. 

“Increasing the Scottish child payment to £30 is a cost-effective investment that would provide much needed financial support to the lower income families who get little if any benefit from the proposed council tax freeze. It would make a substantive impact and demonstrate the First Minister is genuine in his desire to ‘shift the dial’ on child poverty.

“Difficult budget choices will be needed. But the right choice is to prioritise tax and spending decisions that will help end the poverty that still blights the lives of tens of thousands of children across Scotland.

“We are a wealthy country and we need all our political leaders to work together to harness that wealth to end the scandal of child poverty in a rich country once and for all.”

In advance of the budget, campaigners have also called on money for schools to ensure every child is connected with a device to learn and remove costs for curriculum related trips. 

They are also asking for universal free school meals to be rolled out for all primary schools, a policy which currently stops at primary five, and for a timetable to be created for expanding free lunches to secondary school pupils.