THE Scottish Child Payment has seen the biggest reduction in inequality caused by a single policy change since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, an Oxford professor has said.

Professor Danny Dorling, of Oxford University’s School of Geography and the Environment, told The National the payment should see no child go cold or hungry in Scotland this Christmas.

According to rough calculations carried out by the poverty expert, if everyone entitled to the payment claimed it, Scotland’s income inequality would fall dramatically.

Income inequality is measured by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) through something called the Gini coefficient.

Dorling said his calculations – based on full take-up – saw Scotland’s Gini coefficient fall from 35 to just 0.25.

The Scottish Child Payment is a weekly payment of £25 per week, per child under 16 in households already in receipt of other means-tested benefits, such as Universal Credit or Jobseekers’ Allowance.

Dorling stressed his calculations were preliminary and the full impact of the policy will not be seen for some time.

'This could be £4000 by Christmas'

Official child poverty statistics are due to be published next year – which should give a fuller picture of the payment’s impact.

Dorling said: “For each country, for each year that we have data, [OECD data] tells us how big the gap between rich and poor is.

“When the Scottish Child Payment was raised to £25 and extended to all children under 16, I just did a fairly quick calculation – not quite the back of an envelope – but I worked out how it changed the inequality for children in Scotland, if you assume that the money is actually claimed by those who are eligible to claim it.

“Two out of every seven children in Scotland, their families will get it and that has an effect on changing the inequality level in Scotland, which I don’t see in any country for which there has been data for the last 40 years.

READ MORE: Figures reveal more than 300,000 kids receiving Scottish Child Payment

“There are two reasons for stopping at 40. One was that a lot of the countries’ data doesn’t go back that far, and the other is, we suspect that the standards of living of people in East Germany after 89 rose quite rapidly because of their massive levelling up programme.

“So it is fairly possible, but this is simply my assumption and speculation, it is possible that the last time that something like this happened was the levelling up that occurred in Germany after 89. But that wouldn’t have occurred quite so suddenly.

“This is £4000 by this Christmas, to a family with three children claiming any form of benefit. The key thing is it’s not tapered, you don’t lose it, other than if it’s reduced because you’re getting it. That’s why it’s such a sudden change.

“It’s bigger than anything since then [the fall of the Berlin Wall], but that may well have been as big but we don’t know because we don’t have brilliant data for that.”

Speaking about his calculations, Dorling added: “It moved the Gini from I think about 36 to 0.25, but only for children.

“Which is not precise I’ve never published such figures, all I said is I’ve done this, I’ve worked this out and it looks to me, if anyone can find something else that was as big as this, I cannot.

“It basically means that no child in Scotland should go cold or hungry by this Christmas, if this is taken up.

“It’s a remarkable story and the second remarkable story is how it hasn’t been reported.”