Boosting families’ income by topping up the Child element of Universal Credit could take tens of thousands of children out of poverty according to a think tank report.

Increasing the benefit by £50 per month would see almost 50,000 children lifted from poverty said the Institute of Public Policy Research.

On the other hand the report stated that doing nothing would result in an increase in child poverty as UK Government benefit cuts take their toll on the poorest.

The institute said that the Scottish Government, in its next budget, could if it invested almost £400, in topping up Universal Credit benefit 45,000 children in Scotland.

It encouraged the government to “make a down payment” on tackling child poverty.

If the Government wants to meet its child poverty targets by 2030 then it has to act now the researchers said.

If not it said the current child poverty rate of 26% will rise in the next four years as a result of UK government policy.

Russell Gunson, Director of IPPR Scotland, said: “The scale of the challenge we have set ourselves in reducing child poverty in Scotland is rightly ambitious. And it won’t be helped by UK Government cuts to benefits which, if left intact, will increase child poverty in Scotland over the coming years. But we can succeed if we match the scale of the challenge with a similar scale of ambition.”

The think tank produced a range of measures showing how different levels of investment could help.

It stated “Topping-up the child element of Universal Credit by £50 per month could bring 45,000 children out of relative poverty, at a cost of £390m per year.

“Topping up the child element of Universal Credit by £150 per month could bring 100,000 children out of relative poverty, costing £950m per year, bringing relative child poverty rates in Scotland down to 19%.”

However, Mr Gunson, added: “Increasing government spending to tackle child poverty will be necessary, but it won’t be enough on its own. We will also need to find ways to boost wages and earnings amongst the poorest families, through inclusive growth. In this sense we need to adopt a whole-Scotland approach over the coming years with action from employers, business, charities and government.”