Ninety thousand fewer individuals across Scotland are living in relative poverty, according to figures released today.
A total of 780,000 people – equivalent to 15 per cent of the population – were in relative poverty north of the Border in 2010-11, a two per cent drop on the previous year and the first significant fall in around eight years.
However, the proportion of people trapped in absolute poverty continues to stagnate at around 10 per cent, Scotland’s Chief Statistician declared, with no statistically significant changes observed over the 12-month period to absolute poverty levels.
Between 2009-10 and 2010-11, the number of children living in relative poverty across Scotland declined by an estimated 20,000, while the proportion in absolute poverty saw a reduction of around 10,000 children, albeit the changes were not considered statistically significant.
Deputy Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee, Jamie Hepburn MSP, said: “The figures on child poverty in Scotland may be down but they are still far too high. “Every child in Scotland deserves the best possible start in life and it is for this reason that the SNP launched Scotland’s first ever national strategy to tackle child poverty that will help the poorest families increase their household incomes.”
However, Labour’s shadow justice spokesman Scottish Labour’s Shadow Minister for Social Justice, Drew Smith MSP, said child poverty under the SNP had “flat-lined.”
He added : “Under Scottish Labour, child poverty levels in Scotland fell faster than in any other part of the UK. The report from the Child Poverty Action Group makes it crystal clear that very significant progress was made under the last Scottish Labour-led Executive and the previous UK Labour Government.
“The SNP’s record on child poverty is nothing to be proud of and today’s figures are a wake-up call, but unfortunately so were the figures released last year and the year before that. And unless the SNP take child poverty more seriously those 170 thousand children in Scotland won’t be any better off this time next year.”
Douglas Hamilton, Save the Children’s head of Scotland, stressed the Child Poverty Strategy must be followed through against a backdrop of concerns over Westminster policies on welfare.
He added: “The significant reduction in child poverty announced today in Scotland shows some major progress. Despite this, the numbers are still unacceptably high and there is much more work to be done. It does show that it is possible to tackle child poverty when the political will is there and the right actions are taken.
“However, spending cuts and high unemployment means that such progress will be shortlived. The number of children growing up cold and hungry because their parents can’t afford basic essentials is set to rise in Scotland over the next eight years – wiping out all the progress that has been made. This would be an appalling legacy to leave our next generation.”