Scottish Government Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan – OPFS Response
The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act, which aims to reduce child poverty to less than 10% by 2030, says the Scottish Government must prepare a “delivery plan” which sets out the measures that aim to achieve the child poverty targets. Responding to the publication today of the Scottish Government’s ‘Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan’, for 2018 to 2022, Satwat Rehman, Director of OPFS said:
“The impact of welfare reform means over 62% of children in single parent families are expected to live in poverty by 2021.This is a catastrophic injustice which government policy could prevent. We are therefore pleased that children living in single parent families have been identified as a priority group for Scottish Government when preparing their Delivery Plans. To get parents views on what should be in the plans OPFS carried out its own consultations involving over 250 parents.”
OPFS say their single parents’ consultation highlighted the need to:
- Encourage policy makers to recognise the unique challenge single parents face of sole responsibility for the care of their children as well the economic survival of their family.
- Invest in childcare that meets the flexibility needed by single parents who want to work or take up training and education.
- Top up Child Benefit by £5 per week, which would lift 30,000 children out of poverty.
- Introduce a minimum level of school clothing grant across Scotland to ensure equity
- Ensure the Scottish Government’s multi-million funded employability initiative “Fair Start Scotland” provides programmes tailored for single parents to take account of the unique challenges they face.
Satwat Rehman said,
“In the face of the devastating predictions on the growth of child poverty we are pleased the child poverty delivery plan recommends a range of actions to increase family income or reduce costs.
The announcement of a new income supplement for low income families could make a much-needed boost to families struggling to make ends meet. We hope it will be introduced speedily to get support to children who need it most. A new minimum amount for school clothing grant is to be welcomed. Research shows that it should be set at £129 to meet the minimum basic needs.
The commitment to expanded early learning and childcare provision to 1,140 hrs is ground-breaking however we would also like to see investment in improving access to childcare that is flexible and affordable to meet the needs of single parents who are in employment, education or training.
We also believe the UK government should reinstate targets for eliminating child poverty and end the punitive freeze on benefits for working and non-working families. No one thing will eradicate poverty, services need to come together and provide families with support to access education, training and employment. Wages need to be higher and benefit rates better to allow families to live a decent quality of life.”
For further information and / or to arrange an interview please contact:
- One Parent Families Scotland is Scotland’s national single parent organisation. OPFS provides expert information, advice & family support, along with training activities, employability programmes & flexible childcare, tailored to the needs of single parent families. opfs.org.uk
- OPFS Report “Child Poverty Delivery Plans: Single Parents Views” can be found at http://bit.ly/2E53ZmW
- The report covers feedback from a survey & a series of workshops held with 250 single mothers and fathers. Key Findings from the Survey:
- 84% of participants believed that child poverty is increasing/ increasing significantly;
- 67% of participants found it more difficult to afford birthday and Xmas presents;
- 64% found it more difficult to afford travel costs;
- 63% had found it more difficult to keep their home warm;
- 28% found it more difficult to pay for childcare with 17% unable to afford childcare;
- 27% have missed meals to ensure there’s enough food for their children;
- 20% cannot afford to attend an organised activity;
- 80% of parents said lack of money had affected their stress levels;
- 57% said lack of money had affected their mental health;
- 29% said their children had not been able to take part in sports activity;
- 36% said it had been a struggle to keep their home warm & have enough hot water.
- A recent EHRC report shows that by 2021 single parents and their children will lose 20% of their income due to welfare reform – an average of £5,250 a year. Single parents in the bottom fifth of the household income distribution lose around 25% of their net income. https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/cumulative-impact-assessment-report.pdf p153
- The 2017 Child Poverty (Scotland) Act sets four legally binding income based targets for the reduction of child poverty, with a headline target to reduce relative child poverty to less than 10% by 2030 (down from 24% (230 000) in 2016/17)
- The Poverty and Inequality Commission was set up by the Scottish Government to provides independent advice to Scottish Ministers on reducing poverty and inequality in Scotland and to scrutinise the progress that is being made. It’s advice to Ministers on the forthcoming child poverty delivery plan required by the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act can be found at https://povertyinequality.scot/publications/
- The IPPR Scotland report “How much would it cost to reduce child poverty in Scotland?” is published at ippr.org/scotland
- Give Me Five is a coalition of faith groups, children’s charities, anti-poverty groups and trade union groups and supported by the Children and Young People’s Commissioner, campaigning for the Scottish Government to top up child benefit by £5 per week. http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/give-me-five-child-benefit-top-campaign