Slight fall in Scottish child poverty welcome but urgent action now needed if 2020 targets to be met

May 12, 2011

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland has welcomed a slight fall in child poverty in Scotland but called for urgent action at Holyrood and Westminster to ensure targets to eradicate child poverty are met.

John Dickie, head of CPAG in Scotland said;

“These are the final figures for the last UK government's time in office and it is good to see even a slight fall in child poverty in Scotland during such a hard economic year. The investment made in low income families by the last UK government, alongside the Scottish government's focus on income maximisation, has protected some of Scotland's most hard pressed families from what would otherwise been even greater damage. It is testament to the success of this investment that, despite the recession, material deprivation for children in Scotland decreased slightly too. Across the UK child poverty is at it's lowest level for 25 years.

“However these figures are also a warning that concerted action is now needed. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that UK government cuts will now increase child poverty. It is vital that David Cameron’s government and Alex Salmond's majority SNP government keep their commitments to end child poverty by 2020. We need to see an urgent rethink of UK cuts and robust action at Holyrood and Westminster to tackle the lack of jobs, poverty pay, inadequate family benefits and unaffordable childcare that trap too many families in poverty.

“When cuts were made without any strategy to protect children in the 1980s, child poverty more than doubled. UK and Scottish ministers must never let that happen again."

Notes for editors

For further information please contact:

John Dickie, Head of CPAG in Scotland, on 0141 552 3656 or 07795 340 61802

  • Scotland’s Chief Statistician today published Poverty and income inequality in Scotland 2009/10. 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
  • 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.
  • The last time UK child poverty (before housing costs) was at 20% was 1984. Between 1960 and 1980, child poverty was typically between 10% and 15%. Since the baseline year for the target shared by the previous and current government, child poverty has fallen by 800,000* to 2009/10 and by close to a million for the IFS estimated figure for 2010/11. But the IFS estimate it will start rising again as the Government’s cuts start to bite.

Millions % of children

Baseline year: 1998/99 3.4 26%

Latest figures: 2009/10 2.6 20%

IFS estimate: 2010/11 2.5 -

IFS estimate: 2013/14 2.7

Coalition’s 2020 target - below 20%

*Sources: HBAI 1998/99-2009/10 (rounded figures before housing costs); Children and Working-Age poverty from 2010 to 2013, IFS 2010

  • Cuts to in-work and other tax credits and benefits implemented from April 2011:
    • Sure Start Maternity Grant limited to first child only
    • Child benefit rates frozen for three years
    • Other benefits (except state pension) to be uprated using Consumer Prices Index (CPI)
    • Housing benefit (HB) in private rents to be reduced for new claimants
    • capped nationwide
    • four-bedroom limit
    • reduced from median to 30th percentile
    • removing £15 excess for claimant whose rent is lower than the local housing allowance
    • Deductions from HB for other adults in the property to increase
    • Discretionary Housing Payments increased
  • Tax credits:
    • Baby element (extra £545 a year) will be removed
    • Family element to be withdrawn from families on more than £40,000
    • Withdrawal rate to be increased to 41 per cent
    • Disregard for in-year income rise reduced from £25,000 to £10,000
    • Childcare costs to be cut from 80 per cent to 70 per cent
    • Basic and 30-hour elements of working tax credit frozen for three years
    • People over 60 eligible if working 16 hours
    • Child element to be increased by £180 above CPI
  • A baby born to a low-income family from April 2011 will be around £1,500 worse off compared to a sibling born in April 2010 (Loses £190 Health in Pregnancy grant, £500 maternity grant, £500 Child Trust fund, £545 baby element – gains £255 in child element of child tax credit)