£4.5million earmarked to improve after school care as part of plans to tackle poverty

Humza Yousaf took over as First Minister from Nicola Sturgeon. Credit: Jane Barlow/PA

The Scottish Government is to provide £4.5 million to improve after-school clubs in disadvantaged areas.

The funding was announced as Humza Yousaf held a summit in Edinburgh on tackling poverty.

Academics, campaigners and those who have lived in poverty took part in the event on Wednesday morning, with the First Minister saying he hoped it would produce "fresh ideas about what else we could be doing".

The leaders of all political parties at Holyrood also attended.

The £4.5 million funding is designed to improve both indoor and outdoor spaces in the school estate.

Mr Yousaf said: "Tackling poverty must be a shared priority for us all and this summit offers the opportunity to listen to a wide range of views to help us take the right action to drive down inequality across Scotland.

"Helping families deal with cost-of-living pressures is one of our key priorities and providing further funding for affordable and accessible school-age childcare will help deliver that.

Humza Yousaf is looking to tackle poverty in Scotland. Credit: PA

"Funded school-age childcare supports parents and carers into work and enables them to support their families, while also providing a nurturing environment for children to take part in a wide range of activities."

Earlier, research showed that around seven in 10 Scots are cutting back on essentials amid rising costs.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation research found the number of people cutting back in such a way had increased from 65% last summer.

The latest figures, based on polling by Savanta ComRes of more than 4,200 Scots in March, show four out of five single parents, large families and low-income households all having to make reductions in spending.

That means more larger families are feeling the squeeze, with data from summer 2022 showing two-thirds were making cutbacks then.

Chris Birt, associate director for Scotland at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said "people suffering in the face of the current cost-of-living crisis will be impatient to see what follows it".

He said the Scottish Child Payment, which hands £25 per week per child to low-income families, had shown what politicians "can do with political bravery to improve the lives of people in Scotland".

But he also challenged the UK Government to do more, saying an "essentials guarantee" is needed to ensure universal credit provides enough "for people to, at a bare minimum, afford the essentials".

Meanwhile, the think tank said almost one in three low-income households had skipped meals or reduced portion sizes, with almost three people out of 20 in this group having been forced to use a food bank.

Figures from the Trussell Trust recently showed its food banks had given out almost 260,000 emergency food parcels in Scotland last year - the highest number ever in a single year.

A UK Government spokesperson said: "We recognise the pressures of the rising cost of living, which is why we have a plan to halve inflation and have provided record levels of direct financial support - £1,200 for more than eight million vulnerable households last year and up to another £1,350 in 2023/24 for those most in need, including the latest #301 cost of living payment for over 686,000 families in Scotland.

"This is on top of uprating benefits by 10.1% and making an unprecedented increase to the national living wage last month, while our Energy Price Guarantee continues to hold down people's energy bills.

"We are also giving the Scottish Government an extra £82 million to help people in Scotland with essential costs - this is in addition to the significant welfare and housing powers they already have."

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