“Unprecedented child poverty progress under massive threat from Coalition policies”

14 June 2012

Commenting on the latest official poverty statistics published today, John Dickie, head of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland said:

“Unprecedented progress has been made in reducing child poverty in Scotland as a result of policies at a UK and Scotland level, but that progress is now under massive threat from UK government policies.

The Coalition must now rise to the challenge, rethink their child poverty strategy and reject attempts to move the goalposts and redefine, rather than lift, children out of poverty.

Local and national government here in Scotland must also do much more to use the powers they have to protect and support families as they face a whirlwind of stagnating wages, rising prices and brutal cuts to benefits and tax credits.”

Key points:

Unprecedented progress has been made in reducing child poverty. Using the government’s preferred measure:

  • In Scotland the number of children officially recognised as living in poverty has fallen from 300 000 (28% of all children) in 1998/99 to 170 000 (17% of all children) in 2010/11 – 130 000 children have been lifted out of poverty. Using CPAG’s preferred ‘after housing costs’ measure child poverty fell from 330 000 (31%) to 220 000 (21%) – 110 000 children were lifted out of poverty.
  • Across the UK the number of children officially recognised as living in poverty has fallen from 3.4 million (of all children) in 1998/99 to 2.3 million (18% of all children) – 1.1 million children have been lifted out of poverty
  • If the rate of poverty reduction observed over the past decade could be sustained, the 2020 target for eliminating child poverty in the UK would be achieved only seven years later in 2027

Current UK Coalition Government policies are forecast to reverse this progress. Institute for Fiscal Studies analysis predicts that child poverty is set to surge upwards by an average of 100,000 children a year across the UK. This is largely as a consequence of the Coalition’s plans to cut £20 billion off the welfare budget by 2014 and predictions that little progress will be made on parental employment by the Coalition’s policies – a growing concern now the UK is back in recession.

In a landmark report published by CPAG this week leading independent experts (see http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/experts-warn-massive-reductions-uk-child-...) conclude that the child poverty approach pursued between 1998 and 2010 made a significant and long-lasting difference to families with children. It reduced child poverty on a scale and at a pace unmatched by any other industrial nation during the period. Not only were family incomes boosted but child wellbeing improved and measured levels of material deprivation reduced.

For further information, interviews or case studies please contact John Dickie, head of CPAG in Scotland on 0141 552 3656 or 07795 340 618.

Notes to Editors

  • Scotland’s Chief Statistician today published http://scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2012/06/7976/0. This publication presents annual estimates of the proportion and number of children, working age adults and pensioners living in low income households in Scotland and the distribution of household income across Scotland. The estimates are used to measure progress towards UK and Scottish Government targets to reduce poverty and income inequality.
  • CPAG is the leading charity campaigning for the abolition of child poverty in the UK and for a better deal for low-income families and children. We are the lead member of more than 150 organisations in the Campaign to End Child Poverty, campaigning for public and political commitment to ensure the goal of ending child poverty by 2020 is met.