The Scottish government has announced child poverty in Scotland is projected to fall to its lowest level in nearly 30 years. It says around 60,000 fewer children could be living in relative poverty in 2023 compared to 2017.
The new four year delivery plan, Best Start, Bright Futures, focuses on long-term parental employment opportunities, strengthened social security and support to reduce household costs. In 2022-23 this work will be supported by investment of almost £113 million on top of funding already allocated to ongoing programmes.
- £81 million investment in 2022-23 in employability support to help 12,000 parents to find and sustain employment
- Increasing Scottish Child Payment from £20 to £25 when the benefit is extended to under 16s by the end of 2022
- Parental Transition Fund to tackle the financial barriers to parents finding and keeping jobs, investing up to £15m a year
- Mitigating UK benefit cap through Discretionary Housing Payments
Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison said: “Our package of five family benefits for low income families, including the increased Scottish Child Payment, will be worth over £10,000 by the time a family’s first child turns 6, and £9,700 for second and subsequent children. That is a difference of more than £8,200 for every eligible child born in Scotland in comparison to England and Wales.”
Other actions in the plan include:
- Support for parents with childcare, digital connectivity and transport to help find employment and ease cost of living pressures.
- Up to £5 million to identify Pathfinder areas and support families’ needs
- Reforms in the rented sector, investment in affordable housing and helping housing associations to tackle homelessness
Relative child poverty in Scotland was 24% in 2017-18, with an estimated 230,000 children living in poverty in that year. Current projections suggest 17% of children will be living in relative poverty in 2023-24, approximately 170,000, one percentage point below the statutory target of 18%.
The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 sets out four targets:
- Fewer than 18% of children living in families in relative poverty in 2023-24, reducing to fewer than 10% by 2030.
- Fewer than 14% of children living in families in absolute poverty in 2023-24, reducing to fewer than 5% by 2030.
- Fewer than 8% of children living in families living in combined low income and material deprivation in 2023-24, reducing to fewer than 5% by 2030.
- Fewer than 8% of children living in families in persistent poverty in 2023-24, reducing to fewer than 5% by 2030
Child poverty projections are based on the UKMOD microsimulation model, which is maintained, developed, and managed by the Centre for Microsimulation and Policy Analysis (CeMPA) at the University of Essex.