Child poverty report highlights why proposed Child Poverty Bill vital, say campaigner

December 21, 2016

Child Poverty Action Group welcomes wide support for new Bill and says ambitions need to be backed by action ‘using every tool in the toolbox,’ including the power to top up child benefit.

Responding today to the publication of the Scottish Government’s annual report for its Child Poverty Strategy , John Dickie, Director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, said:

“With a totally unacceptable one in five of Scotland’s children still living in poverty it’s clear government at every level needs to ratchet up commitment to ending that poverty. The Scottish Government’s proposed Child Poverty Bill is a vital step toward that – setting out clear ambitions with income based targets to build on the areas of progress this year’s report highlights. It’s now essential that the new Bill includes clear duties setting out the role of local government and its partners, and that Government has a duty to report to Parliament on progress in the years ahead”.

Mr Dickie continued:

“Eradicating child poverty by 2030 will be challenging and the Holyrood government needs to use every tool in its toolbox. New powers to top up reserved benefits, including child benefit, offer an opportunity to back the new Bill with the kind of investment needed if Ministers are serious about their ambitions. A £5 a week top up to child benefit would in itself reduce child poverty by 14% in Scotland – meaning around 30 000 fewer children in poverty than will otherwise be the case.”

The Scottish Government also published and analysis of responses to its consultation on the proposed new child poverty Bill. Commenting on the analysis Mr Dickie added:

“It’s hugely welcome that there is such widespread support for the Scottish Government’s proposed Child Poverty Bill, for clear targets and for a duty on Ministers to achieve the ambition of eradicating child poverty by 2030. There is also clear support for the legislation to be clear on the role of local government and its partners in contributing to achieve that target. We now look forward to working with government in reviewing the measurement framework that will sit alongside the new targets to ensure that all the progress indicators are clearly aligned with the ultimate ambition of eradicating child poverty for good.”

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 Scottish Government Annual report for its Child poverty strategy is published today and it’s analysis of responses to consultation on the proposed new Child Poverty Bill is here.

2. More information on the scale, nature. and causes of child poverty in Scotland can be found here. For more on the impact of topping up child benefit see Keung, A. and Bradshaw, J. (2016) Analysis of the impact of increases to child benefit and child tax credits on child poverty rates in the UK and Scotland, March 2016 Blog

3. More than one in five (220,000) 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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