CASH transfers should be given to Scotland’s poorest families to help them cope during the school holidays, a poverty commission has recommended.

A report from the Poverty and Inequality Commission highlighted low-income families face a number of pressures during holiday periods, ranging from food insecurity to a lack of opportunities for play and activities, social isolation, and parenting challenges.

It noted that during the school holidays a number of key supports for children and families are not provided – such as free school meals, breakfast clubs, after-school clubs, after-school activities and guidance and pastoral support within school.

The independent body published a series of recommendations after it was asked by the Scottish Government to consider the role of local authorities, social enterprise and the third sector in providing after school and holiday care and responding to school holiday food insecurity. It said direct cash transfers be the most “dignified” way to lessen financial pressure on families, and recommended the amount should be set at to at least match the costs of school meals.

Douglas Hamilton, pictured, the Commission’s chair, said: “The holidays bring additional costs and challenges to already hard-pressed families, particularly over the six-week summer break and at Christmas. That’s why our report recommends that the Scottish Government introduce an additional cash benefit during school holiday periods in recognition of the additional costs that families face.”

The report also recommends the Scottish Government, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and local authorities should work together to provide holiday club provision, with nutritious food as a core element, available for all children from low-income families.