Child poverty campaigners welcome MSP’s recommendations on Scottish Child Poverty Bill targets

May 22, 2017

Stronger local duties and concrete actions to boost family incomes still needed

Campaigners today welcomed the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee's Stage One report on the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill. As introduced the Bill sets out four-income based targets for the eradication of child poverty in Scotland by 2030. It also requires the Scottish Government to publish delivery plans setting out how the targets will be achieved.

 

The Committee, drawing on evidence from the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) , members of the End Child Poverty (ECP) coalition in Scotland, and others,  recommends the Bill is amended to include interim targets, greater detail on what must be included in delivery plans and a statutory commission to provide independent scrutiny.

John Dickie, Director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, welcomed the Committees recommendations saying:

“Even as it stands this Bill is hugely welcome and when enacted will help drive further progress on child poverty and enable Parliament, campaigners and public alike to hold Ministers to account for the commitments they have made to end child poverty. However it can be strengthened, and we are delighted MSP’s have listened to ours and others evidence and agreed on the need for interim targets . They have also agreed that the government’s new delivery plans to end child poverty must include detail on how Ministers will make full use of new social security powers to boost family incomes, how they will ensure families can access welfare rights income maximisation advice, how they will support parental employment and how devolved housing and childcare provision will contribute”.

Stronger local duties and concrete actions now needed

However Mr Dickie continued:

“There is still a need to strengthen the Bill in relation to the role of local government, health boards and their partners. The Bill requires that local authorities and health boards produce annual action reports setting out what has been done. This local duty should be beefed up and made more forward-looking to ensure child poverty is at the heart of all local strategic planning. There is also a real opportunity now for Ministers to back up their Bill with the kind of concrete action that would see a step change for low income families. Using new powers to make a £5 top up to weekly child benefit would, for example, lift 30 000 children out of poverty”

ENDS

For more information contact John Dickie, Director of CPAG in Scotland, jdickie@cpagscotland.org.uk , 0141 552 3656 or 07795 340 618

Notes

  1. The Social Security Committee Stage One report is at https://digitalpublications.parliament.scot/Committees/Report/SC/2017/5/22/Stage-One-Report-on-the-Child-Poverty--Scotland--Bill
  2. CPAG in Scotland’s call for a Scottish Child Poverty Act was top of the list of priorities included in our pre-election Programme for Scottish Government manifesto – see http://www.cpag.org.uk/sites/default/files/CPAG-Scotland-Programme-Scot-Gov-2016-21.pdf . The policy is supported by Barnardo’s Scotland, Oxfam Scotland, Save the Children, Poverty Alliance, One Parent Families Scotland and other members of the End Child Poverty coalition in Scotland.
  3. More information on the scale, nature. and causes of child poverty in Scotland can be found at http://www.cpag.org.uk/scotland/child-poverty-facts-and-figures
  4. More than one in four (260,000) of Scotland’s children live in poverty. And unless we act now, things will get worse. Independent modelling by the Resolution Foundation and the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) forecast massive increases in child poverty in Scotland, and across the UK.
  5. The effects of poverty are real and significant. When children grow up poor they miss out. They miss out on the things most children take for granted: warm clothes, school trips, having friends over for tea. They too often do less well at school and earn less as adults.
  6. As well as damaging children and families, poverty is a costly problem. Independent research commissioned by CPAG estimates that child poverty costs the UK at least £29 billion a year in extra pressure on public services that deal with the effects of poverty and, in the longer term, wasted economic potential.
  7. Eradicating child poverty will require sustained action by both UK and Scottish Governments. Yet despite the context of growing child poverty, the UK Government dismantled the UK Child Poverty Act 2010, removing key child poverty targets and wiping out the legislative commitment to eradicate child poverty in the UK by 2020. The UK government is also legislated to remove the UK and Scottish Governments’ binding duty to produce child poverty strategies every