‘Act now’ urge campaigners as latest figures show nearly a quarter of Scotland’s children in poverty
- Child poverty in Scotland up from 230 000 in 2014-17 to 240 000 (24%) in 2015-18
- 65% of children in poverty living in working families
- “Scottish Government must act now and use new powers to boost family incomes immediately”
- UK government “must face up to reality”, with 30% of children across the UK living in poverty
Responding to the latest official child poverty figures published today (28th March), John Dickie, Director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, said;
“Today’s stark figures show that families struggling now cannot wait years for the Scottish Government’s promised income supplement, welcome as it is. Whilst there is no question rising child poverty is driven by UK government social security cuts, Scottish Ministers must act now and use new powers to boost family incomes immediately. A £5 top up to child benefit would be one simple way of lifting thousands of children out of poverty and protecting many more. As time slips by, childhoods slip by, childhoods blighted by the simple fact their families just don’t have the money they need to give their children a decent start in life.
“These aren’t just statistics. These are children going hungry, missing out on school trips, unable to enjoy the activities and opportunities their better off peers take for granted. These are parents going without meals, juggling debt and seeing their own health suffer to protect their children from the poverty they face”.
Over the decade from 2010 to 2020, child benefit alone – a vital lifeline for families struggling to make ends meet – will have lost almost a quarter of its value simply because it has not been updated as prices have risen.
Mr Dickie continued:
“These official figures reveal a staggering one in four children in Scotland were living in poverty between 2015 and 2018. Two thirds (65%) of those children are living in working families and all the evidence suggests that the eye-watering cuts to UK benefits that working and out of work families rely on are the key drivers of this trend. Worse still independent forecasts suggest bigger rises are still to come unless governments at every level act with urgency.”
Mr Dickie highlighted the importance of action at the UK level;
“The UK government needs to face up to the reality of child poverty and rethink the benefits freeze, two child limit and benefit cap that are trapping so many children in hardship.”
New research carried out for the Child Poverty Action Group to coincide with the publication of the annual poverty statistics found that the 4 year freeze on children’s benefits alone (child benefit and child elements in tax credits and universal credit) will lead to average loses of £240 per year for families with children and will result in 100,000 more children in poverty by 2023-24. This is just one way in which families are losing out – for many the losses are much greater because of the freeze in help with housing costs and other benefits, and the impact of the benefit cap and two-child limit.
For more information contact John Dickie, Director of CPAG in Scotland, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0141 552 3656 or 07795 340 618
- Child Poverty Action Group works on behalf of the one in four children in Scotland growing up in poverty. It doesn’t have to be like this. We use our understanding of what causes poverty and the impact it has on children’s lives to campaign for policies that will prevent and solve poverty – for good. We are leading expert providers of second-tier social security advice, information and training.
- The latest official child poverty figures for Scotland are published today at https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Social-Welfare/IncomePoverty
- UK poverty figures are also published today at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/households-below-average-income-hbai--2
- 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)
- 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
- The effects of poverty are real and significant. When children grow up poor they miss out. They miss out on the things most children take for granted: warm clothes, school trips, having friends over for tea. They too often do less well at school and earn less as adults.
- As well as damaging children and families, poverty is a costly problem. Independent research commissioned by CPAG estimates that child poverty costs the UK at least £29 billion a year in extra pressure on public services that deal with the effects of poverty and, in the longer term, wasted economic potential.