Scottish Government Report: 38% Child Poverty By 2030

Coming the week after official figures revealed that a shocking 1-in-4 Children in Scotland is now in poverty, a new Scottish government report has predicted that by 2030, that figure will climb to 38%.

The new projection, produced by the independent analysts at Landman Economics and Virtual World Research, puts most of the blame for the shocking rise in poverty at changes to social security due in April. However, they stress that this projection will only happen if nothing is done.

The charity Children in Poverty Action Group Scotland has recommended five reforms needed to eliminate child poverty:

  1. Firstly, raising the minimum wage to a real living wage, and thereby ending the rise of in-work poverty.
  2. Increasing social security payments across the board, including re-establishing the link between child benefits and inflation - a recent attempt to raise child benefit in Scotland was blocked by the SNP and the Tories.
  3. Ensuring that people claim all payments they are entitled for - as the Robin reported on recently, less than 5% of low income households are claiming their council tax exemption, and between 19 and 23% of families are estimated to be not claiming means tested benefits.
  4. Expanding access to affordable and free childcare: part time child care for a child under two is £5,514 - when combined with chronically low wages, it can be the single biggest expense for families.
  5. Lastly, the introduction of universal free school meals, free school trips, and a school clothing grant. Richard Leonard promised to pay for these provisions with a new levy on private schools.

The recently devolved social security powers allow regular benefits to be topped up, as well as new benefits to be created in areas of devolved competence. Because so much poverty depends on childcare and housing costs, this could be radically reduced with the right political will and an increase in social security payments to low income families.

Responding to the report, Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet spokesperson for the Eradication of Poverty and Inequality, Elaine Smith, said:

“It is simply unacceptable that one in five people and one in four children are forced to live in poverty and that these figures are set to rise because of callous Tory policies.

“But the SNP has failed to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to halt Tory austerity, and that is why 210,000 Scottish children have been living in absolute poverty since 2009 – and 230,000 are now in relative poverty.

“Labour has proposed using the powers of the Scottish Parliament to top-up child benefit and immediately lift 30,000 children out of poverty – but the SNP has consistently joined with the Tories to block it.

“It is only thanks to Labour amendments that there are interim targets in the Child Poverty Bill, but targets alone won’t bring down poverty, the SNP has to take meaningful action – action which is long overdue.

“And it's only Labour which has an industrial strategy to raise people's incomes and end job insecurity, taking more people out of poverty.

"With one million people in Scotland living in poverty right now , we cannot afford to continue to tinker around the edges. The SNP reconsidering its alliance with the Tories to oppose Labour’s plan for a £5-a-week child benefit top-up would be a good place to start.”

You can read the full projection here.

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