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We will halve child poverty by 2030, says government

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The new bill will set targets to increase the income of Scottish families and dramtically cut the number of children growing up in poverty

The Scottish Government has vowed to halve child poverty by 2030 with a new child poverty law.

Organisations working with children and families in poverty are being asked to help mould the new Scottish Government child poverty bill.

A consultation on the bill is seeking views on the best way to reduce child poverty from 20% of young Scots now to 10% by 2030.

The plan proposes to introduce income targets, which the government said were “significantly more ambitious” than those scrapped by the current UK Government earlier in 2016.

Measures such as ensuring more people are paid the living wage, families have access to more free or cheaper child-care and free school meals are all outlined as methods of boosting family income in Scotland over the next 14 years.

Cabinet secretary for equalities Angela Constance launched the consultation during a visit to Dundee on Monday.

Around one in five children live in poverty in Scotland. This is simply unacceptable in a modern, thriving country like ours

She said: “This government has vowed to take action to tackle child poverty and we have already done a lot of work in this area but we want to go further.

“We’ve promised children a better start in life and more opportunities as they grow up; we’ve offered parents more and better-paid jobs and greater security in which to bring up their families; and we are committed to tackling deep-seated inequalities, especially in education and health.

“Around one in five children live in poverty in Scotland. This is simply unacceptable in a modern, thriving country like ours. I want to be absolutely clear that we are serious about our ambition to eradicate child poverty, and I want to work together with partners across Scotland to make that ambition a reality.”

The child poverty bill consultation document asks for charities and other groups working with poor families to comment on how best to ensure fewer than 10% of children are living in relative poverty, after housing costs, by 2030 and fewer than 5% of children are living in absolute poverty. It also wants to ensure fewer than 5% of children are living in persistent poverty, which is defined as living in poverty for three out of a four year period.

John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action group (CPAG) in Scotland, added: “This is a great opportunity to shape vital legislation which can play a key role in reducing child poverty and improving the prospects of Scotland’s families.

“It is vital that the new bill includes ambitious targets as well as duties to measure and report on progress and a strategic framework holds national and local government to account.

“We know that legislation in itself won’t end child poverty but it will help ensure child poverty remains the top priority it needs to be for every level of government in Scotland.”