Responding to today’s publication of official 2011/12 child poverty statistics for Scotland and the rest of the UK, John Dickie, Head of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, said:
“Any reduction in child poverty in 2011/12 is welcome but is overshadowed by frightening Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) forecasts (see note below) of a massive surge in child poverty as UK tax and benefit changes kick in.
What’s more across the UK two thirds of children living in poverty are now living in working families, giving the lie to false claims that ‘worklessness’ and ‘welfare dependency’ are the main causes of poverty. The promise that work would be a route out of poverty has not been kept. Across the UK there are 5 million workers on less than the living wage, the real value of the minimum wage has been cut and working tax credits have been slashed. Wages for those at the bottom are getting worse, whilst wages for the wealthiest continue to rise, and that simply isn’t fair.
It is more vital than ever that UK government rethinks it’s lack of support for families, but here in Scotland we need government to ratchet up its use of devolved powers to not just mitigate damaging UK policies but build on promises to, for example, widen free school meal entitlement, ensure working parents receive a Living Wage and improve access to childcare.
Behind these statistics are tens of thousands of children across Scotland whose life chances are being damaged because their families just don’t have the resources they need to give their children a fair start in life. Across the UK that damage costs us all £29 billion a year, a figure that academics estimate will rise to £35 billion if child poverty increases as projected.”