Action on child poverty - annual report and consultation responses published

Date: 10th January 2017
Category: Child poverty

There is overwhelming support for the government's ambition to tackle the deep-rooted causes of child poverty says Equalities Secretary Angela Constance, but the Scottish Greens argue that the latest government report shows the need for a budget to tackle the 'scandal' of child poverty.

Ms Constance was speaking after the results of a consultation on child poverty proposals were published. The consultation ran from 8 August to 30 September, and a total of 116 responses were received - 86 from stakeholder organisations and 30 from individuals.

The majority of those who responded to the consultation agreed with the government's plans to introduce long-term, ambitious child poverty targets.

The government's annual report on the child poverty measurement framework shows improvement in a number of areas, including:

- the employment rate gap between the most deprived areas and the rest of Scotland has narrowed
- the percentage of school leavers from the most deprived areas who are in positive destinations has increased
- the employment rate of parents has increased while the percentage of parents with low or no qualifications has decreased

During her visit to North Edinburgh Childcare, Ms Constance also announced the Scottish Government would contribute £40,000 to the Cash for Kids appeal which helps children who are disadvantaged through poverty, and helps groups and organisations that work to improve the lives of children in communities across Scotland.

On the report and consultation, Ms Constance said: "It's simply unacceptable that children are growing up in poverty in Scotland and that's why tackling the issue is a key priority for this government.
"The aim of the consultation was to hear from organisations and people who deal with the effects of child poverty on a daily basis and understand what changes they see as vital to achieving our goal. It's encouraging to get that feedback and to see overwhelming support for the proposals we consulted on, including setting ambitious statutory targets and publishing regular delivery plans and reporting annually. I will be bringing forward a Child Poverty Bill in the new year based on the consultation, ensuring that tackling child poverty in Scotland remains front and centre.

Alison Johnstone MSP, Social Security spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said the report on the Scottish Government's Child Poverty Strategy underlines the need for an anti-poverty budget. The report shows improvements in only 9 of the 37 measurements. Between 2014/15 and 15/16 20,000 additional children fell into poverty, taking the total to 160,000 - 17 per cent of children in Scotland.

Alison Johnstone, Social Security spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP for Lothian, said: "This report underlines what Green MSPs have been calling for - an anti-poverty budget. To see an increase in child poverty is deeply disturbing, and Scottish Ministers should be straining at the limits of their powers to tackle this scandal.

"Ministers have already given me a commitment to roll out nationally the Healthier Wealthier Children project, which has helped families in Glasgow at risk of poverty boost their incomes. They must deliver on that commitment. Ministers must also give serious consideration to measures such as a top up of child benefit and the introduction of a young carer's allowance.

"We have the ability with our income tax powers to give lower earners a tax cut while generating more funds for anti-poverty measures and public services by ensuring higher earners pay a fairer share. Today's report shows boldness is required if we're to see improvements in child poverty levels."