Scots ministers urged to use new powers to cut child poverty

5 Mar 18

Scotland’s Poverty and Inequality Commission has advised the Scottish Government that it must make significant use of new social security powers if it is to meet challenging child poverty reduction targets.

The commission provides independent advice to ministers. Its chair Douglas Hamilton said: “The Scottish Government needs to be realistic about the scale of the challenge that the country faces in tackling child poverty.

“New social security powers will need to be used to help reach the targets and the government needs to be clear the extent to which it is prepared to introduce new benefits or top-up existing ones.”

Hamilton said though that benefits alone were not the answer to combating poverty and more should be done to support parents into work and to reduce housing costs for the poorest households.

He explained: “Work will be the most effective route out of poverty for many households, but higher employment alone will not necessarily address child poverty for all children.

“In-work poverty has been rising in recent years with nearly two-thirds of children who are in poverty living in a household where someone is in some form of employment.”

Commission recommendations included that the Scottish Government should commit to provide analysis of the likely impact of annual budget decisions on the child poverty targets and focus on a core set of actions to have the biggest impact on reaching these.

The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 sets in law four targets relating to child poverty to be met by 2030:

  • less than 10% of children in relative poverty;
  • less than 5% of children in absolute poverty;
  • less than 5% of children in combined low income and material deprivation;
  • less than 5% of children in persistent poverty.

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