THE Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has claimed the Scottish Government has a “political, social and moral imperative” to introduce an income supplement for low-income families in the next Budget.

The Rev Susan Brown is one of four faith leaders and over 20 leaders of children’s charities, anti-poverty groups, senior academics and trade unionists who have written to Derek Mackay MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work to make the call.

READ MORE: How a Citizen's Basic Income could save thousands of Scots' lives

Coordinated by the Give Me Five campaign – which urges the Government to add £5 to child benefit – the civic and faith leaders urged ministers to bring forward the introduction of the income supplement, due to be introduced by 2022.

The National:

The Budget will be published on Wednesday, just a week after the final roll out of Universal Credit.

The roll-out is expected to see thousands of the lowest-income families and individuals left worse off and pull record numbers into poverty.

Campaigners note it disproportionately affects women who account for 91% of lone parents. With one million people in Scotland, including 230,000 children, living in poverty, they also argue that that introducing the income supplement would lift tens of thousands of children out of poverty.

The chief executives of charities such as Poverty Alliance and Children 1st as well wrote: “With our organisations witnessing each day the impact that poverty … it is clear to us that families need this support much sooner than 2022. Families simply cannot wait.”

Meanwhile the Moderator, along with Rev Mark Strange, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, and Bishop William Nolan, president of Justice and Peace Scotland, expressed concern that forecasts of child poverty levels reaching 38% by 2027 “would represent a grave moral failing of our society”.

READ MORE: SNP ministers hit out at 'inhumane' Universal Credit

Rev Brown told the Sunday National: “It is a political, social and moral imperative that we act now to effect change for the good.

“The Church of Scotland stands alongside people of all faith traditions, and none, in the move towards fairness for all our children.

“We believe in a God of justice, a God who speaks out for the disadvantaged, the left behind, the ignored and the voiceless.”

John Dickie, director of Child Poverty Action Group Scotland added: “This letter demonstrates the extraordinary breadth and depth of support across Scotland for an immediate boost to family incomes to help tackle the devastating hardship too many children are facing.

“The Scottish Government’s commitment to an income supplement by 2022 is hugely welcome, but families who are struggling to put food on the table and pay the bills now really can’t wait that long.”

The National:

However speaking to the Sunday National this week, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security Shirley-Anne Somerville ruled out the possibility of introducing the income supplement in the next Budget.

Somerville added that she and the Cabinet Secretary for Communities were looking at different options, adding they “appreciate that people really want to see something in place”. She said: “But it can’t be delivered within the next Budget because it will take time to set up – we can’t deliver it without a system that works with the DWP.”