A quarter of Scottish children still living in poverty, government figures reveal
Almost a quarter of children in Scotland were living in relative poverty in the three years between April 2019 and March 2022, with more than two-thirds of the children who experienced poverty living in working households.
In its latest poverty and income inequality report, the Scottish Government said an estimated 250,000 children were living in relative poverty – where household income is below 60 per cent of the UK median – for each of the three years under review while 210,000 were in absolute poverty – where household income is below 60 per cent of the UK median in 2010-11, adjusted for inflation.
While the report noted that levels of poverty had levelled out in recent years after falling from much higher levels in the mid-1990s, social justice secretary Shona Robison said they had fallen “less than we would have hoped”. She said the Covid pandemic is likely to have had an impact on the figures.
She pointed to a series of investments including the Scottish Child payment, which has seen eligible families receive £25 per child since last November, that were designed to alleviate the problem.
However, the think tank IPPR Scotland said that, given the lack of progress to date, the Scottish Government would find it difficult to hit its legally binding target of reducing child poverty by 10 per cent by 2030-31.
“We’re barely making a dent in our persistently high child poverty rate and although important, targets almost a decade away mean little when a quarter of a million children are locked in poverty right now and progress has stagnated,” said IPPR Scotland director Philip Whyte said.
“Scotland has taken important steps to tackle poverty in recent years and shown what can be possible with political will and investment – including the introduction of, and successive increases to, the Scottish Child Payment, which will have a positive impact.
“But these figures should be a warning that we need to go further, faster with all the tools at our disposal.
“That should mean further increases through social security and a universal guarantee of financial security, scaling up employment support, and making short-term progress towards long-term commitments like the development of a new minimum income guarantee.”
The statistics also showed that 21 per cent of children were living in households with marginal, low or very low food security during the three-year period, with those living in the lowest-income households most severely affected.
Overall, six per cent of children were living in homes where food security was very low, with that figure rising to 12 per cent for children living in relative or severe poverty. Just 55 per cent of children in relative poverty and 56 per cent in severe poverty were living in high food security households.
SNP leadership hopefuls Kate Forbes and Humza Yousaf have both pledged to make eradicating childhood poverty their number one priority should they win the race to succeed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Scottish Labour social justice spokesperson Pam Duncan-Glancy said the SNP’s “failure to tackle poverty is a shameful blight on their record in government”.