Evidence highlights a wide range of structural, household and individual-level factors that contribute towards poverty. Income from social security, income from employment and costs of living are key drivers and are themselves impacted by a number of factors. Below are some areas that can be addressed.
Access to secure employment and decent pay:
65% of children in poverty in Scotland live in families where at least one adult is in work. Given that low pay and job insecurity are a key factor in the existence of in-work poverty it is essential that all working parents receive at least the real Living Wage, a reasonable degree of security and opportunities to develop their skills and progress at work.
Adequate social security benefits:
Benefit rates should be increased to a level which ensures that children do not experience poverty whether their parents are in or out of work. An important step towards this would be increasing the rate of child benefit to reflect the increased cost of raising a child at the same time as re-instating the link between benefit uprating and inflation.
Increased uptake of benefits:
According to DWP figures, up to half a million families in the UK are not claiming the means-tested benefits (specifically, income support and employment support allowance) which they are entitled to (Source:DWP). This highlights a need for more high quality information and advice.
Overall, the average cost of part time (25 hours) child care in Scotland for a child under two is £109.68 per week, while the average cost of an after school club is £56.74 per week (Source: Family and Childcare Trust) . As well as easing pressure on family budgets, increased provision of affordable, high quality childcare would facilitate access to employment for parents and carers and improve outcomes and educational attainment for children, particularly those from deprived backgrounds.
The removal of financial barriers to education:
The provision of universal free school meals could save a family with two children more than £800 a year.* Providing adequate School Clothing Grants to low income families and reducing the cost of school transport and school trips would also help to ease the financial pressure experienced by families.
*Edinburgh City Council, for example, charges £2.20 per day for a school lunch for a child in primary school and £2.60 per day for a child at secondary school. www.edinburgh.gov.uk/info/20183/food_and_clothing/434/lunches_and_milk_i...