More scale, pace and funds needed to meet child poverty targets, warns Commission

The Scottish Child Payment will need to be quadrupled to help the Scottish Government to avoid missing its child poverty targets, the Poverty and Inequality Commission (PIC) said today.

More scale, pace and funds needed to meet child poverty targets, warns Commission

The independent advisors to the government said the current action being taken was “not on a scale or at a pace that is sufficient to meet the interim or final child poverty targets,” warning that “child poverty levels have been at best stagnating, and may be starting to rise”.

Ministers have committed to reducing the proportion of children living in relative poverty – defined as those from households earning less than 60 per cent of the median income – from the current level of 24 per cent to 18 per cent by 2023-24.

A further target aims to cut the level of poverty to just 10% by 2030-31, but the PIC said action taken so far was “inadequate” and that both were likely to be missed.

The Scottish Child Payment is being doubled from £10 per week to £20 in April, a move described by Nicola Sturgeon as “the boldest and most ambitious anti-poverty measure anywhere in the UK”.

But the Commission’s report, which was informed by a panel of 19 people with lived experience of poverty, said the benefit would have to be raised to £40 a week just to hit next year’s target.

Chairman Bill Scott said: “Our advice shows that, quite simply, too many children are still experiencing poverty in Scotland.

“As a society we believe it’s wrong for children’s lives to be restricted by poverty. That’s why the child poverty targets were set.

“While we know work is ongoing, progress is not enough to meet the targets, and for some measures the position is worsening. Despite a clear commitment, the action taken by the Scottish Government so far is inadequate.”

The commission called on ministers to use “all the levers available to end the scourge of child poverty”.

Mr Scott added: “Targets to reduce child poverty can be met, however, the Scottish Government will have to utilise every opportunity and deliver action faster, coupled with a significant increase in funding.”

“We need to see action across all areas of government in order to release families from the constraints of poverty. Providing parents with support to apply for a job, for example, won’t have the impact we want if the parent can’t get suitable childcare or doesn’t have a reliable bus service to get them to work.”

Social justice secretary Shona Robison said: “We will double the Scottish Child Payment to £20 per week from April and will invest £361 million above the level of funding from UK Government on social security in 2022-23.

“The delivery plan will also set out other levers we will use and actions to take – for example, on employment, maximising incomes and affordable housing, which all contribute to reducing child poverty.

“However, we cannot do it alone – we must work together across society to deliver on this national mission.”

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