1 in 3 children still growing up in poverty in parts of Scotland
Campaigners call for end to UK government benefit freeze and highlight vital importance of local child poverty action reports
The End Child Poverty coalition (1) has today published a new child poverty map covering Scotland and the rest of the UK (2). The new figures reveal that poverty affects children in every part of Scotland, with as many as 34% of children still living in poverty in some local authority areas – compared to one in ten in others (see Table 1 below).
The local child poverty estimates are broken down by local authority, parliamentary constituency and ward and show huge variation across the country.
Members of End Child Poverty in Scotland, including Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, Children in Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS), Children1st and the Poverty Alliance are calling for urgent action to be taken at UK, Scottish and local government level.
As price rises risk pushing ever larger numbers of children below the poverty line, the coalition is calling on the UK Chancellor to end the freeze on children’s benefits – currently in place until the end of the decade – so that families no longer see living standards squeezed as prices rise.
Since the introduction of the benefit freeze, the coalition of charities, faith groups and unions has warned that as prices rise, low income families would find it increasingly hard to pay for the same basic essentials.
John Dickie, Director of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, a leading member of the End Child Poverty coalition, said, ‘‘It is scandalous that across Scotland so many of our children are growing up in poverty. There can be little doubt that the UK Government’s policy of maintaining the benefits freeze despite rising prices is a major contributor to the emerging child poverty crisis.
Mr Dickie went on to say;
“The figures highlight the importance of new national delivery plans and local child poverty action reports introduced by the Scottish Government under the 2017 Child Poverty (Scotland) Act. It is now vital that local and national government in Scotland use every tool at their disposal to make sure these plans make a real difference to families . A relentless focus on boosting family incomes and reducing the costs families face is now needed if progress toward eradicating child poverty is to be made. Action to support parents in work, improve access to childcare, provide welfare rights advice and reduce the costs of school and housing are among the many actions that can be taken at local level.”
Other members of the End Child Poverty coalition in Scotland added:
Jackie Brock, Children in Scotland in Scotland’s Chief Executive said:
“With the Child Poverty Act now in force, Scotland can now make sure this is the last time we see shocking figures like this. In addition to an immediate removal of the benefits freeze at Westminster, it is essential that the first child poverty delivery plan for Scotland takes all available actions that will significantly reduce the numbers of children and families living in poverty. And this includes topping up reserved benefits, including child benefit, if necessary.”
Satwat Rehman, Director of One Parent Families Scotland
“It is shameful that, in a country as wealthy as Britain, so many children live in poverty. Sadly children in single parent families face a particularly high risk of poverty compared with other households. OPFS calls for a UK social security system which is fit for purpose – one that is linked to financial need, removes benefit sanctions and genuinely makes work pay. In particular, universal credit must be reformed to ensure financial security for families. The time for urgent action has also come to make sure that every family can access affordable, high quality childcare, which is also available out-with 9am-5pm, to meet the demands of today’s labour market. Government should support employers who embed family-friendly practices, including the living wage and flexible working, enabling employment which is accessible and sustainable for single parents.
Shelagh Young, Director of Scotland, Home-Start UK
“Home-Start’s volunteers are supporting too many families where parenting challenges are directly linked to either in-work and out of work related poverty. We know of children who won’t attend school because it is embarrassing to have holes in their shoes or who do not invite friends round to play because there is no food and no heat. These practical problems, along with the damage long-term poverty can do to emotional wellbeing and mental health, are no longer unusual and must be addressed urgently
Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance
“Child poverty really is a problem for the whole of Scottish society – these figures show that no part of Scotland is free from the scar of child poverty. Whilst the problem of child poverty is a complex one, we know that solutions exist. The new Child Poverty Act will help bring greater focus to action to address child poverty and we need to ensure the actions are up to the challenge. New powers in Scotland to top benefits will be one solution that must be considered. But the UK Government also needs to action on these damning statistics – ending the freeze on benefits would the place to start.”
Mary Glasgow, Interim Chief Executive of Children 1st, Scotland’s national children’s charity:
“These shocking figures bring into sharp focus the reality of life for too many children living in Scotland and the rest of the UK. Many of the families that we work with are struggling to meet the basic needs of their children with some being forced into making a choice between feeding their children or heating their homes. Growing up in poverty can have lifelong consequences for children and work to ensure that children’s right to an adequate standard of living is upheld.”
For further details contact John Dickie, Director CPAG in Scotland, on 07795 340618 or 0141 552 3656
Table 1 (rounded to nearest %)
|Argyll and Bute||20%|
|Dumfries and Galloway||24%|
|Edinburgh, City of||22%|
|Perth and Kinross||17%|
|Eileanan an Iar||15%|
(1) The figures presented are estimates of child poverty in different areas, calculated using HMRC data and the Labour Force Survey. These estimates aren’t directly comparable with the HBAI figure of 3.9 million children in poverty in the UK, due to different methodologies and rounding. An explanatory note of how these estimates are produced is available http://www.endchildpoverty.org.uk/poverty-in-your-area-2018/
(2) Ward level data sheets can be provided. The local data has been produced to correspond as closely as possible to the measure of low income used by the government in its regional and national data. However, direct comparisons between the two data sets should not be made (a full explanation of the methodology can be found on our website at http://www.endchildpoverty.org.uk/poverty-in-your-area-2018/).
(3) The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017
- sets out four ambitious headline targets for 2030
- places a duty on Scottish Ministers to publish child poverty delivery plans in 2018, 2022, and 2026, and to report on those plans annually.
- Places a duty on local authorities and health boards to report annually on activity they are taking, and will take, to reduce child poverty.
(4) The End Child Poverty coalition (www.endchildpoverty.org.uk) is made up of nearly 100 organisations from civic society including children’s charities, child welfare organisations, social justice groups, faith groups, trade unions and others, united in our vision of a UK free of child poverty.