Latest child poverty stats “deplorable”, say Scottish campaigners

May 7, 2009

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

“The failure to make any real progress on child poverty for a third year running, despite promises from UK and Scottish government, is deplorable. You don’t eradicate child poverty by doing nothing, but we’ve just had a ‘do nothing’ UK budget for the poorest children. The disgraceful Budget decision to give the poorest families less than the cost of a pint of milk per child to help them survive the weekly grind of the recession was a kick in the teeth.

“But the Scottish Government also needs to ratchet up its action to meet it’s anti-poverty commitments. With so many families suffering ever greater pressure, commitments to extend free school meal entitlement to all Primary 1 to 3 children and to children in families receiving maximum Working Tax Credit are more important than ever. But we also need action to boost school clothing grants and remove the other additional charges that too often mean our poorest children miss out at school. It’s also vital that government at all levels invests to ensure parents have access to the affordable childcare they need to take up work opportunities when they arise.

“We need to remember these are not just statistics. These figures represent tens of thousands of children in Scotland being damaged by poorer health, lost opportunities at school and an inability to take part in the activities most children take for granted. These children are suffering now and need help now. A serious investment is urgently needed to support them. Even in the current economic situation it is not only affordable but one of the surest ways of boosting the economy.”

Notes for editors
  • For full details of the latest Scotland poverty statistics see http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Social-Welfare/Incom...
  • In last month’s Budget, the Government increased the annual amount of the ‘per child’ element of the child tax credit by £20 per annum. This amounts to 38.4p per week for each child – less than the 45p it currently costs for a pint of milk in the UK’s leading supermarkets.
  • Yesterday the influential Treasury Committee released a damning report on Budget 2009 in which the committee members said they were “dismayed” at the failure to invest sufficiently in progress on child poverty eradication. The Chair of the Committee, Labour MP John McFall, said: “Though spending in this area may not seem a priority amidst the sudden collapse of banks, in the long run it is the right thing to do. Nearly 4 million children in this country are still growing up in poverty. They are suffering now: they are likely to experience ill health, to underachieve in school and to be denied the opportunities that others are given. Indeed, child poverty and youth unemployment are linked. Now more than ever it is vital to support our young people. They will be the ones who will help us out of these difficult economic times; investment in their future is just as important as support for banks and businesses.” For more information and to see the full report, visit the Committee’s website: http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/treasury_committee.cfm
  • CPAG believes that the wealthiest tax payers can afford to support the important national investment needed to meet government targets on child poverty through fairer taxation policies. This would be balanced by the benefits of an economic stimulation for businesses in the poorest communities. Each pound spent on such an investment is predicted to boost the economy by £1.60 because the poorest families spend immediately in the real economy on the things their children need, thereby helping speed up economic recovery.
  • 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.
  • CPAG is one of over 150 member organisations of the Campaign to End Child Poverty, campaigning for public and political commitment to ensure the goals of halving child poverty by 2010 and ending child poverty by 2020 are met.

For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

John Dickie Head of CPAG in Scotland on 07795 340 618 or 0141 552 3656