Home-Start Scotland is pleased to see a reduction in child poverty as a result of actions taken by the Scottish Government. We welcome the range of additional measures taken in response to new challenges for families due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many Home-Starts across Scotland support parents’ employability through assistance into training and education, but working poverty remains a significant problem for many of the families with work with. We appreciate the government’s commitment to helping more parents into work and to building a living wage nation. We welcome positive developments in this respect.

However, as Scotland enters the largest recession on record, we are worried that the actions in place do not do enough to address the escalating need faced by more and more families. The boost to the Scottish Child Payments is whole heartedly welcome, but we agree with the End Child Poverty Coalition’s call for additional financial support to families to bridge the gap between now and the start of the payments in 2021. Immediate action is needed to prevent more families from falling into poverty as we move forward. Whilst sources like the child payments and Best Start grants are very welcome, we worry about creating a patchwork of income sources for families that mean some may miss out.

Local Home-Starts across our network, like many third sector organisations, have seen an increase in demand since the start of the lockdown and have risen to the challenge of meeting their communities’ needs. As our ‘Babies in Lockdown’ report highlights, this this has been and continues to be an incredibly anxious time for new parents, many of whom have felt a notable decline in their wellbeing. Poverty, parental wellbeing and children’s development are all interlinked, so it is crucial that support for families is holistic and addresses all of these together. The emotional and practical supports Home-Starts have been able to provide to families have been an invaluable lifeline for many, but will not be enough to meet this increasing need without additional resourcing at the local level.

The pandemic has underscored the necessity of community-based Third Sector organisations for delivering the help needed to keep families afloat during tough times, let alone to lift out of poverty in the long term. Voluntary organisations have never been more needed, yet we remain increasingly concerned about shrinking funding for these vital services. Sustainable support for the third sector is needed to ensure we can continue to meet the needs of families, stay on track to ending child poverty, uphold the rights of all children and make sure that Scotland is the very best place to grow up.