Campaigners respond to latest government child poverty data: “ another stark reminder of the urgent need to support family incomes”

Published on: 
31 March 2022
Written by: 

John Dickie

Director of CPAG in Scotland
  • An estimated 400,000 children across UK pulled out of relative poverty in the year 2020/21 when universal credit was increased by £20 per week.
  • Cutting the uplift will have pushed many of those children back into poverty, campaigners say
  • One in ten children in Scotland lived in persistent poverty - for three of the four years up to 2020

 

Child poverty campaigners today responded to the publication of the latest official child poverty data at UK and Scotland level.

 

Across the UK an estimated 400,000 children were pulled out of poverty in the year 2020/21 when universal credit (UC) was increased by £20 per week. But the UK Government’s decision to cut UC by £20 last October will have pushed those children back into poverty.

The campaigners say that on top of the cut, the Chancellor’s failure to bring benefits in line with inflation from April means families in poverty will suffer even more as costs soar. Children remain more likely to be in poverty than working age adults or pensioners.

 

Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on data collection, there is no official poverty statistic for Scotland for the latest three-year period 2018-21, and at UK level the statistics need to be treated with caution. However new official statistics on ‘persistent poverty’ show one in ten children in Scotland lived in poverty for three of the four years up to 2020.

 

John Dickie, Director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, responded to the latest figures saying;

 

“The latest data on child poverty at Scotland and UK level is another stark reminder of the urgent need to support family incomes. The temporary £20 increase to universal credit shows that government has the power to protect children from poverty. But many of the children who were lifted out of poverty by that increase have already been forced back over the brink by the UK government’s decision to end the uplift. And in a week when the Chancellor said he was comfortable with his choices it looks like UK Ministers have turned their backs on low-income families.

 

Here in Scotland the better news is that we know that the new Scottish child payment is already making a difference. Once fully rolled out and increased to £25 it will substantially cut the numbers of children living in poverty. It’s now vital that take up of the new payment is maximised, it is rolled out as soon as possible and the wider actions to improve income from paid work set out in the Scottish government’s new child poverty delivery plan are implemented effectively.”

 

ENDS

Note to editors:

The UK statistics released by DWP today are less reliable than usual because of data collection issues during the pandemic and should be treated with a high level of caution. However, the fall in child poverty reported in this year’s release aligns with independent forecasts.

 

The Scottish data released today can be found at https://data.gov.scot/poverty/

 

Today’s UK Households Below Average Income, covering April 2020- April 2021 when the £20 uplift was in place shows:

  • An estimated 400,000 children were lifted out of relative poverty (after housing costs). That meant 3.9 million children (27% of all UK children) were in poverty.
  • At 3.9 million, the number of children in poverty in 2020/21 was still 300,000 higher than in 2010-11 (when it was 3.6 million).
  • 22% of children (900,000) living in poverty were in a household classified as food insecure

Child Poverty Action Group says today’s figures demonstrate that investing in social security is the most efficient way to reduce child poverty and support struggling households. But without the extra £20 per week on universal credit and with only a 3.1% uprating of benefits planned when inflation is 8% (a real-terms income cut of £663 per year for universal credit claimants) the gap between what struggling families need and the support they receive has grown.

 

The Scottish government new tackling child poverty delivery plan can be found here.