Child poverty in Scotland set to worsen

Tackling child poverty in Scotland is likely to prove still more difficult in years ahead because of the UK coalition government’s programme of benefits reform, according to the Scottish Government. It is estimated that an additional 50,000 children in Scotland will be living in poverty by 2020 as a result.

The comments were made in the second annual report on the Scottish Government's child poverty strategy.

Key points

  • Between 2009-10 and 2011-12, all the three main indicators showed a decrease in the child poverty rate in Scotland. This is explained by real-terms falls in median household incomes, and by above-inflation increases in many benefits and tax credits in 2010-11.
  • The percentage of children in low income and material deprivation was 8 per cent in 2011-12, representing 80,000 children. This was a decrease from 12 per cent in 2010-11. Under a previous measure (used prior to 2011-12), the percentage of children living in combined low income and material deprivation was largely unchanged between 1994-95 (when measurement in Scotland started) and 2010-11.
  • The Poverty and Social Exclusion (PSE) Survey results for Scotland show 1 in 6 children (16 per cent) living in a home that was either damp or not adequately heated, 3 per cent of families having children who lacked at least one essential food item, 5 per cent of children having to go without at least one essential clothing item, and 32 per cent excluded from at least one essential social activity.
  • The expected impact of UK-wide benefits reform in Scotland shows that the poorest households will lose more income on average than richer households. The reforms could potentially reduce benefits in Scotland by over £4.5 billion in the five years to 2015, with £1 billion of this relating directly to children. With the introduction of universal credit, lone parents are the group that will suffer most, compared with other family types, in the longer term - though, on average, couples with children will benefit more than couples without children and single adults.
  • According to one independent estimate, the relative child poverty rate in Scotland will increase significantly by 2020, rising to 22.7 per cent. This will lead to an additional 50,000 children in Scotland living in poverty.
  • The report spotlights a range of case studies where the Scottish Government and its partners are taking action to tackle particular facets of child poverty. But, it argues, much more could be achieved with the levers that would be provided by Scottish independence.

SourceAnnual Report for the Child Poverty Strategy for Scotland: September 2013, Scottish Government
LinksReport | CPAG press release

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Publication date: 
Sep 6 2013