Levels remain high post-pandemic
Campaigners have warned that child poverty could spiral out of control as new data reveals levels remain stubbornly high across Scotland post-covid.
Despite families benefiting from the temporary covid-related increase to universal credit, new research published today by the End Child Poverty coalition shows little reprieve for low-income families.
Campaigners, including Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, Save the Children, Trussell Trust, Poverty Alliance, Oxfam Scotland, Close the Gap, Aberlour, Children 1st , Home-Start Scotland, Children in Scotland, Parenting across Scotland and One Parent Families Scotland, say the new data shows just how important additional investment in the new Scottish child payment will be to supporting families through the cost of living crisis and to drive forward efforts to meet Scotland’s child poverty targets.
The payment was introduced from February 2021 for children under six where families are in receipt of universal credit. Its value was doubled from £10 to £20 per week in April 2022 and it will increase to £25 per week when rolled out to all eligible under 16s by the end of the year.
Bridging payments for school aged children were not doubled and the coalition is urging Scottish Ministers to ‘act now to double the bridging payments in advance of the full roll out of the Scottish child payment’.
Ed Pybus, speaking for End Child Poverty, said: “The figures show just how big a difference investment in social security can make, and how important the Scottish government’s new Scottish child payment is and will continue to be if Scotland is to end the scandal of children living in poverty.
“Progress is being made but, as low-income families struggling to cope with spiralling prices know all too well, there is no room for complacency, and we need every level of government to do its bit if we are to meet Scotland’s child poverty targets.
“The UK government must now commit to ongoing increases in UK family benefits.”
The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act requires the Scottish Government to ensure fewer than 18% of children are living in poverty by 2023/24, on course to achieving less than 10% by 2030.
Scotland’s Poverty and Inequality Commission recently warned that meeting the 2030 target will require “more transformational change” to address the drivers of poverty – including action to reshape the economy (see note 2 below). The campaigners also highlight that Scotland’s independent care review, The Promise, was clear that “there must be significant, ongoing and persistent commitment to ending poverty and mitigating its impacts for Scotland’s children, families and communities.”
Councils and local health boards are also required to publish annual Local Child Poverty Action Reports setting out action being taken at local level to tackle child poverty.
“Here in Scotland we urge newly elected councillors to use every tool at their disposal to boost family incomes and reduce the costs families face.
“That means using local powers to deliver more cash support to families, support decent jobs - especially for women and those affected by disability, and improve access to high quality, free and accessible childcare.
“Finally, the Scottish government should act now to double bridging payments in advance of the full roll out of the Scottish child payment to ensure school aged children get the same support as the under sixes who are already benefitting from the payment.”
Estimates of children living in poverty, below 60% median income after housing costs, by Scottish local authority.
|Local authority||Number of children in poverty||Percentage of children in poverty|
|Argyll and Bute||2325||18.9%|
|City of Edinburgh||13358||17.2%|
|Dumfries and Galloway||5171||22.9%|
|Na h-Eileanan Siar||669||16.7%|
|Perth and Kinross||4433||18.7%|