Calls for urgent delivery of income supplement as local statistics show rising child poverty across Scotland

Calls for urgent delivery of income supplement as local statistics show rising child poverty across Scotland

  • In some Scottish constituencies, more than a third of children are growing up in poverty
  • Local authority data is listed below.

Scottish members of End Child Poverty, the UK’s leading child poverty coalition, are calling on Holyrood Ministers to urgently introduce a cash boost for low-income families in Scotland and for UK government to end the freeze on working age benefits. This comes as new data published today shows that over 30% of children are trapped in poverty in some Scottish Parliament constituencies. At a national level the tide has turned and child poverty is rising, reversing the progress made in reducing child poverty levels across the country.

The campaigners have welcomed the introduction of child poverty targets and local and national delivery plans in Scotland but are calling for the UK Government to set out an ambitious and credible child poverty reduction strategy alongside a restoration in the value of UK children’s benefits.

Researchers from Loughborough University estimated the numbers of children locked in poverty in each constituency, ward and local authority area across Britain; showing that child poverty is rising particularly rapidly in parts of major cities and often rising fastest in places where it is already highest, suggesting that inequality between areas is growing.

In Scotland, eight local authorities have more than 25% of children living in poverty (see table below).

The Scottish Government has committed to introducing a new income supplement for low-income families by 2022 as part of wider action to meet statutory targets to cut relative child poverty to less than 10% by 2030. At the same time, local authorities and health boards in Scotland are finalising their first statutory Local Child Poverty Action Reports.

However, in response to today’s figures, campaigners say that Scotland’s children can’t wait years to receive the support needed now.

John Dickie, Director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, a leading member of End Child Poverty in Scotland, said:

“Today’s stark figures outline the staggering levels of child poverty that many of our communities face. There is no question rising child poverty is driven by UK government social security cuts but Scottish Ministers must act now with the utmost urgency to introduce their promised Income Supplement. Families struggling now cannot wait years for this vital additional support.

These aren’t just statistics. These are children going hungry, missing out on school trips, unable to enjoy the activities and opportunities their better off peers take for granted. These are parents going without meals, juggling debt and seeing their own health suffer to protect their children from the poverty they face. We cannot let this become the norm in our society.”

Mr Dickie also highlighted the importance of action at local level:

“Local authorities and health boards in Scotland are now finalising their first set of local child poverty action plans, outlining the action they are taking to tackle child poverty. These latest statistics show just how vital these plans are. They must be backed by adequate resources and prioritised by politicians and policy makers at every level.”

Chief executive of Children in Scotland, Jackie Brock, commented:

“That 500,000 more children in the UK are living in poverty today than in 2010 is a shameful indictment of a social security system which has failed children and failed families. As the cost of living rises, it is a matter of urgency for low-income families that swift and meaningful action is taken to address deepening inequalities.

“The Scottish Government’s commitment to introduce a new Family Income Supplement is welcome, but today’s figures show that too many families cannot afford to wait until 2022 to see this support. Early implementation is essential.

“However, this top-up alone will not go far enough while the UK Government continues to implement policies which push families into hardship. This is why we are also calling for an end to the two-child cap on child allowances in tax credits and Universal Credit, for reform of the Universal Credit system, and for a reversal of the benefits freeze which fails to reflect rising inflation.

“Political and economic decisions have consequences for children and families. Policymakers must now be prepared to act on the evidence, reverse harmful policies, and provide much needed support to low-income families.”

Marion Davis Head of Policy at One Parent Families Scotland, said:

“Last month families receiving social security benefits began the fourth year of a benefits freeze imposed by the UK government which has already delivered cumulative savings of £4.4bn. As a result, an increasing number of children in single parents families live in poverty because of the combined impact of the benefits freeze, universal credit, a two-child limit on social security payments and the benefits cap. It is an urgent priority for the UK government to reverse these cuts and for Scottish Government to implement policies such as the income supplement to help tackle inequality to make Scotland a fairer, more equal country.”

Anna Feuchtwang, Chair of the End Child Poverty coalition, said:

‘We know what causes child poverty and we know how to end it. We know that the income of less well-off families has been hit by severe real-terms cuts in benefits and by higher housing costs. And we know that work alone does not guarantee a route out of poverty, with two thirds of child poverty occurring in working families.’

‘Yet in many areas growing up in poverty is not the exception it’s the rule with more children expected to get swept up in poverty in the coming years, with serious consequences for their life chances. The UK Government must respond with a credible child poverty-reduction strategy.

‘Growing up in poverty means growing up trapped. It restricts a child’s chances of doing well at school, of living a healthy and happy life, and of finding well paid work as adults. We urgently need Government to set a course of action that will free our children from the grip of poverty.’

End Child Poverty is calling for the UK Government to set out an ambitious and credible child poverty-reduction strategy, including:

  • Restoring the link between benefits (including housing support) and inflation, and then making up for the loss in the real value in children’s benefits as a result of the four-year freeze and previous sub-inflation increases in benefit rates.
  • Ending the two-child limit on child allowances in tax credits and universal credit-and reforming Universal Credit;
  • Reversing the cuts and investing in children’s services such as mental health, education, childcare and social care.

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