New child poverty map reveals need for local and national action

8 November 2016
  • Over 1 in 3 children grow up in poverty in parts of Scotland
  • Campaigners call for rethink of UK benefits cuts and new duties and support for local government in Scotland

The End Child Poverty coalition (1) has today published a new child poverty map covering Scotland and the rest of the UK (2). The new figures reveal that poverty affects children in every part of Scotland, with as many as 34% of children living in poverty in some local authority areas - compared to one in ten in others (see Table 1 below). Across the UK more than three and a half million children are living in poverty, with 220 000 of them in Scotland.

The local child poverty estimates are broken down by local authority, parliamentary constituency and ward and show huge variation across the country.

Members of End Child Poverty in Scotland, including Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, Children in Scotland, Barnardos Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS) Children1st and the Poverty Alliance are calling for urgent action to be taken at UK, Scottish and local government level.

The coalition is calling on the Chancellor to use the upcoming Autumn Statement to end the freeze on children’s benefits, and reverse the sharp cuts being introduced to in-work benefits under Universal Credit. They warn that the current benefits freeze means that as prices rise, low income families find it increasingly hard to pay for basic essentials at the same time as cuts to Universal Credit are pushing more working families below the poverty line. (3)

In Scotland the campaigners are calling on Holyrood and local government to make sure the proposed Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill addresses poverty at local level (4).They believe that the Bill, which will enshrine the Scottish Government’s ambition to eradicate child poverty by 2030, should explicitly set out and support the role of local government and its community planning partners in tackling child poverty.

John Dickie, Director of Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland said:

“There’s no doubt that many of the key drivers of child poverty are UK wide and if the new Prime Minister is serious about supporting families then decisive action must be taken to end the freeze on children’s benefits and reverse sharp cuts to in-work support under Universal Credit.

But this new map also makes it clear that child poverty plays out in different ways at local level. Local authorities and their partners know their communities and are in a great position to work with local people to prevent poverty. Many are already doing important work to make sure local childcare, housing and employability policies are working for low income families. The new Scottish child poverty legislation must now be drafted so as to ensure all local authorities are supported in law to take a strategic approach, and that all levels of government are pulling in the same direction – towards a Scotland free from child poverty.”

Martin Crewe, Director of Barnardo’s Scotland:

“The latest map of child poverty across Scotland reflects the experience of our services working with families on low income day in day out. There is much good work taking place to support these children and families but given their financial situation changes in benefits that reduce income have a damaging effect on parents and children. To address these challenges Barnardo’s Scotland works in partnership with local authorities and public bodies in many areas. We recognise the key role they have in the ambition to eradicate poverty and believe that a strategic approach to tackling poverty at the local level should be a key part of the new Child Poverty Bill as well as support to implement this duty”.

Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance said:

“Poverty in Scotland continues to harm the lives of children across Scotland, as this new map shows. Living on a low income not only affects their well-being now, but can have a negative impact in the future. This is an unnecessary situation and one that requires urgent attention. The forthcoming Scottish Child Poverty Bill and the Social-Economic Duty should begin to focus more action on the way that we support people at the local level. However, these figures also serve to highlight the damaging impact that cuts to social security benefits by the UK Government have had on many Scottish families. If Theresa May wants to signal a new direction for her Government, then these cuts should be reversed.”

Alison Todd, Chief Executive of Children 1st, Scotland's National Children's Charity said:

“Many of the children and families we support are becoming increasingly caught in a complex poverty trap which includes housing costs, trying to meet the costs of enabling their children to take part in school activities and being isolated from opportunities. By working in genuine partnership with families experiencing poverty, local authorities can make a real difference in these and many other areas to help lift children out of poverty.”

Satwat Rehman, Head of One Parent Families in Scotland (OPFS) said:

“The statistical evidence on children living in poverty confronts us with a stark reality: thousands of children in Scotland live in poverty, children miss out on their childhood as a result and poverty deprives them of the capabilities needed to develop and thrive. It prevents them from enjoying equality of opportunity. The severity of need in the communities we work with is increasing. The Institute of Fiscal Studies predicts an increase of more than 50% in the level of child poverty by 2020. Many affected will be children in single parent families. These local figures must lead to a rethink of a Westminster strategy that not only isn’t working but looks set to create a child poverty crisis in the years ahead”

Notes to editors:

(1) The End Child Poverty coalition is made up of nearly 100 organisations from civic society including children’s charities, child welfare organisations, social justice groups, faith groups, trade unions and others, united in our vision of a UK free of child poverty.

(2) An interactive map and detailed local figures including ward and parliamentary constituency level data is available here.

Ward level data sheets for UK regions can be provided on request during the embargo period (please see regional contact details below). The local data has been produced to correspond as closely as possible to the measure of low income used by the government in its regional and national data. However, direct comparisons between the two data sets should not be made (a full explanation of the methodology can be found on our website).

(3) In October 2016, the Office of Budget Responsibility confirmed that, on average, people will be worse off under Universal Credit than under tax credits (page 26). This follows controversial cuts to the work allowance (how much people can earn before Universal Credit entitlement starts to be tapered off) in the 2015 Summer Budget.

(4) The Scottish Government have recently consulted on their intention to introduce child poverty legislation for Scotland. The full consultation document published by the Scottish Government is available here.

End Child Poverty’s response to the consultation is available here.

Contacts:

John Dickie, Director, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland. 0141 552 3656 jdickie@cpagscotland.org.uk

Hanna McCulloch, Policy and Parliamentary Officer, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland 0141 611 7090 hmcculloch@cpagscotland.org.uk

Chris Small, Children in Scotland, 0131 313 8824, csmall@childreninscotland.org.uk,