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Charities warn child poverty figures are “stark reminder” of need for focus on child poverty.

This news post is 11 months old
 

Scottish Government statistics show 250,000 children still live in poverty.

Charities in Scotland have called for the Scottish Government to redouble their efforts to tackle child poverty as a new report reveals nearly a quarter of Scotland’s children are still living in poverty. 

Official Scottish Government poverty statistics published on Thursday shows 250,000 children were still living in poverty between 2019 and 2022. 

That figure represents 24% of all children in Scotland, with young people remaining at significantly higher risk of poverty than pensioners (15%) and working age adults (21%). 

Campaigners said the figures are a “stark reminder” of how vital Scottish government focus on child poverty is. 

Oxfam Scotland has called on the Scottish Government to use its tax powers to urgently address Scotland’s persistent poverty problem. 

Oxfam Scotland has branded the figures a ‘deep injustice’ and is calling on both the UK and Scottish Government to take urgent and sustained action to tackle Scotland’s stubbornly high poverty rate.   

Oxfam Scotland says that while the Scottish Government has taken some positive steps to tackle poverty facing some groups, including children in low-income households and some unpaid carers, the next First Minister needs to go further, faster.  

Jamie Livingstone, head of Oxfam Scotland, said: “This disturbing data shows that the pandemic and cost of living crisis have dealt a devastating double blow to those on the lowest incomes.   

“The UK Government must act, but the next First Minister must do so too. They should acknowledge that tackling poverty requires greater action to narrow the yawning gap between rich and poor and use all of the powers at their disposal to do more than just tweak tax: instead, they should introduce bold, progressive taxation, including targeting wealth. 

“Only then will they end the deep injustice of poverty for good and build a fairer future for all of us.”

The figures show levels of child poverty broadly stable in Scotland, but pre-date the full roll out of the Scottish child payment.

DWP statistics also published today show that across the UK 350 000 more children were pulled into poverty in 2021/22.  

Child poverty campaigners say this was largely because the UK Government cut the £20 universal credit uplift half-way through the year. 

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) says child poverty should soon be falling in Scotland as a result of the roll out of the Scottish child payment and increases to its value. 

CPAG analysis suggests sustained investment in the Scottish child payment means the statutory child poverty target to reduce child poverty to less than 18% by 2024 is still within reach.

But, they warn, the rising cost of living, with the cost of basic essentials rising fastest, is outstripping the value of extra Scottish government support. 

John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland said: “In a rich country these scandalous levels of child poverty are utterly unacceptable and a stark reminder how vital the Scottish Government’s focus on child poverty is. 

“The next First Minister must not just sustain but increase the crucial investment being made in the Scottish child payment. It's crystal clear from these trends across the UK that social security is critical to preventing child poverty.

“It’s children that pay the highest possible price for poverty – they pay with their health, their well-being and their life chances.  

“The economic fallout for all of us is vast.  But if the political will is there, child poverty can be fixed.”

Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison said: “We recognise too many people are living in poverty which is why we are committed to break the cycle of poverty in Scotland within the scope of our powers and budget.

“Levels of poverty have fallen less than we would have hoped, given the Scottish Government’s significant investment. However these figures cover the period when the Covid-19 pandemic was having a significant economic impact and progress has also been hindered by the devastating impact of the UK Government’s decade of austerity and its welfare cuts for many Scottish families.

“As well as the game-changing Scottish Child Payment, we support families in variety of ways including free child care, free bus travel for under 22s, free school meals to around 145,000 pupils, and we have made significant increases to both our fuel and food insecurity funds and have also made £2.5 million available to local authorities to boost the Scottish Welfare Fund.”