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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
23 November 2023
Scottish Government urged to ‘supercharge’ efforts to tackle child poverty

The report calls on the government to accelerate its work on expanding the availability of childcare | Alamy

Scottish Government urged to ‘supercharge’ efforts to tackle child poverty

The Scottish Government has been urged to “supercharge” its efforts to tackle child poverty following a report from Holyrood’s Social Justice and Social Security Committee.   

The committee has been inquiring into the issue, particularly focusing on parental employment – an aspect the government argues is key to reducing the number of children living in poverty.   

The report calls on the government to accelerate its work on expanding the availability of childcare, as it found parents struggled to access childcare from a child’s first birthday to when they begin school. It also found that parents’ main concern was affordability and flexibility when it came to childcare.  

Parents also voiced the need to find work that fits within school hours.  

Public transport has been identified as another key issue within the report, and it points to a range of challenges for people in urban and rural areas. The committee have asked the government to consider how public transport services can be designed and better supported to provide affordable, frequent and direct services that support the type of trips more regularly made by parents.  

It also encourages the Scottish Government to explore how an integrated system of discounted travel offers for low-income working-age people could be provided.    

This, the committee believes, would enable some families to access a wider range of employment opportunities by being able to travel further and more cost-effectively.  

The committee believe eligibility to the Scottish Child Payment should be extended to help those parents who study and are struggling financially, as those who attend university or college and receive student funding are ineligible for benefits such as Universal Credit.  

Deputy convenor of the committee Bob Doris said: “In Best Start, Bright Futures, the Scottish Government said that parental employment is a key driver to meet the statutory targets to address child poverty. Our report looks at how the aims of that plan could come closer to being realised.  

“The Scottish Government believes that without its actions to date, 28 per cent of children would be living in poverty. Even so, the Government expects to narrowly miss its interim child poverty targets, with modelling predicting that 19 per cent of children will be living in poverty this year. Therefore, we are calling for the Government to take decisive action now by clarifying its priorities and commitments and producing explicit delivery and spending plans to make sure progress is on track.  

“We recognise the good progress the Scottish Government has made in reducing child poverty. We now want to see the Government supercharge its efforts so that the ambitions it has set can become reality.” 

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