Campaigners call for action as official stats show nearly one in four of Scotland's children in poverty - even before corona pandemic
- "Worrying" rise in persistent poverty – number of children living in poverty for three out of last four years up from 15% to 17%
- Call to increase child benefit by £10 per child per week as new research (see Note 3 below) shows a £10 increase would reduce child poverty by 5 percentage points, compared to less than 2 percentage points resulting from the £20 universal credit and tax credits uplift announced by the Chancellor last week
- Government in Scotland urged to build on new Scottish Child Payment and 'use every tool in the Holyrood toolbox' to protect struggling families
- "Unless concerted action is taken now, this week's laid-off workers and their children will be adding to next year's poverty statistics".
Responding to the publication of official child poverty figures by the Scottish and UK governments, John Dickie, Director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, today (26/03/20) said;
"Whilst not surprising after a decade of UK benefit cuts, low wage growth and increasing insecurity in the workplace it is no less shocking to see that nearly one in four of our children were still living in poverty even before the current corona crisis hit. The longer children experience poverty the greater the damage to their health, wellbeing and life chances so it is especially worrying to see the increasing number of children living in persistent poverty. At a time of national crisis these are the children already most at risk from further shocks to family income.
This is stark reminder of how important the hugely welcome new Scottish Child Payment will be, but the scale of the gap between the latest figures and the statutory target to cut child poverty to less than 10% by 2030, will mean far, far more is needed in the months and years ahead. At UK and Scotland level we need to build the social security system, create the labour market and invest in the public services that we know parents need to provide the best possible start in life for their children."
"Unless concerted action is taken now, this week's laid-off workers and their children will be adding to next year's poverty statistics"
Mr Dickie continued;
"We are now calling as a matter of utmost urgency for an extra £10 per week per child to be added to child benefit as the most effective way of getting support to families quickly in the face of the corona crisis. Additional payments for children of an extra £10 per week through universal credit and tax credits are also needed to help avoid struggle turning to real hardship for families during the pandemic. The benefit cap and the two-child limit policies must be removed to prevent the poorest families missing out.
There can be no doubt we are facing a child poverty crisis. In recent days government at every level has taken extraordinary steps, at a pace, to protect the jobs of millions and prevent an economic disaster as a result of the covid-19 pandemic, but many families in insecure jobs will still be waking up this morning to the realities of our inadequate social security system. Unless concerted action is taken now, this week's laid-off workers and their children will be adding to next year's poverty statistics".
"Here in Scotland government needs to build on the hugely welcome Scottish Child Payment. In the short term every tool in the Holyrood toolbox needs to be used to protect already struggling families from the impact of COVID-19. Building on welcome investment announced by the Communities Secretary last week Ministers must now look at the range of top up powers and social security payments at their disposal to provide the financial security that families so urgently need to stop them going under as jobs are lost and wages cut."
For further details or interviews contact John Dickie on 07795 340 618
- Today's Scottish poverty statistics can be found here https://www.gov.scot/collections/child-poverty-statistics/#lateststatistics
- The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 contains four income-based targets to reduce child poverty in Scotland by 2030 see https://www.gov.scot/binaries/content/documents/govscot/publications/statistics/2020/03/poverty-income-inequality-scotland-2016-19/documents/infographic-summary/infographic-summary/govscot%3Adocument/infographic-summary.pdf
- UK Households Below Average Income statistics are here
- Bradshaw J and Keung A (2020) Poor children need a coronavirus bonus, York: Social Policy Research Unit.
- Poverty figures quoted in this release are for relative child poverty, measured as children living in households below 60% of median income, adjusted for family size, after housing costs
- 'Someone is in persistent poverty if they have been in poverty for three or more of the last four years. This measure is important because the longer someone is in poverty, the more it impacts on their health, well-being, and overall life chances'. See https://www.gov.scot/publications/persistent-poverty-scotland-2010-2018/