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by Jenni Davidson
19 May 2021
Child poverty rising in every council area in Scotland

Child looking out a window - Image credit: Holyrood

Child poverty rising in every council area in Scotland

Child poverty has risen in every council area in Scotland since 2015, new statistics reveal.

Research by Loughborough University on behalf of the End Child Poverty coalition shows that even before the pandemic levels of child poverty were going up across Scotland.

Between 2014-15 and 2019-20 the biggest rise in child poverty was in Glasgow, where it increased by 5.1 percentage points from 27.1 per cent to 32.2 per cent.

With nearly a third of children in Glasgow living in poverty, the city also had the highest levels of child poverty in Scotland overall in 2019-20.

The local authorities with the next highest levels of poverty were North Ayrshire on 27.9 per cent followed by East Ayrshire and Clackmannanshire on 27.3 per cent.

The smallest rise in child poverty over the five-year period was in East Renfrewshire, where it increased by 0.8 points.

East Renfrewshire also had the joint lowest level of poverty in 2019-20, along with the Shetland Islands, which were both on 15.8 per cent, followed by East Dunbartonshire and Aberdeenshire.

While Scotland has lower levels of child poverty, at 24 per cent, than England, where it is at 30 per cent, or Wales, where it is 31 per cent, campaigners say that there can be no room for complacency if statutory child poverty targets are to be met.

The Child Poverty Act, which was passed unanimously by the last parliament, requires the Scottish Government to ensure that less than 18 per cent of children are living in poverty by 2023-24, and less than 10 per cent by 2030.

Speaking on behalf of members of End Child Poverty John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said: “Solid foundations have been laid in Scotland for future progress on child poverty, not least the introduction of the Scottish Child Payment and an increasing focus on action at local level.

“But this new data is a stark reminder that child poverty was still rising in every part of Scotland, even before the pandemic struck.

“The challenge now is for government at all levels to use every power they have to boost family incomes and reduce the costs that struggling parents face.

“The new Scottish Parliament must act on election promises and make tackling child poverty its top priority.

“The cross-party commitment to at least doubling the Scottish Child Payment needs to be implemented as a matter of utmost urgency in order to help meet the 2023-24 targets.

“But child poverty also needs to be a priority at local level.

“Local powers, including over economic development, housing and welfare, must be used to maximum effect to ensure all families have a disposable income fit for giving children a decent start in life.”

Dickie said the UK Government must also act if it was serious about ‘levelling up’.

He added: “The UK Government can be in no doubt about the challenge it faces if it is serious about ‘levelling up’ parts of the country hardest hit by poverty.

“After the year we’ve all had, they owe it to our children to come up with a plan to tackle child poverty that includes a boost to children’s benefits.

“And they need to scrap plans to cut Universal Credit given parents and children are having a tough enough time as it is.”

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Read the most recent article written by Jenni Davidson - The Holyrood baby: More likely to live in poverty now than the day she was born.

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