Child poverty analysis

Statistics, research and analysis relating to child poverty in Scotland.


This page contains statistics and analysis related to child poverty.

Related pages can be found here:

Latest statistics

The main poverty report contains the latest offical poverty, child poverty, and income inequality statistics for Scotland, as well as poverty rates broken down by a range of equality and other characteristics. Data for this report comes from the Family Resources Survey.

The child poverty update shows progress against the targets in the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017.

Poverty and Income Inequality in Scotland 2020-23 (March 2024)

Child poverty update (March 2024)

Child poverty strategy

The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 sets out targets to reduce the proportion of children in poverty by 2030. The documents in this section give detail about the Scottish Government's plans, policies, and progress towards meeting the targets.

Priority groups

This evidence pack highlights key issues for six priority household types identified as being at higher risk of child poverty.

More information about the specific barriers these groups face is available in the focus reports and evidence reviews that accompanied the annual progress reports, see the next section.

Progress reports

5th Progress report 2022-23 (June 2023)

4th Progress report (June 2022)

3rd Progress report (June 2021)

2nd Progress report (August 2020)

1st Progress report (June 2019)

Delivery plans

Background documents

Child poverty system map

An interactive system map has been developed as part of the child poverty evaluation. This shows the wide range of factors that influence levels of child poverty, as well as the relationships between them, in order to inform on-going planning.

The intention is that the map can be used by practitioners, policy-makers and organisations (public, private and third sector) to 

  • develop a shared understanding of the contexts and drivers influencing levels of child poverty at local and national levels
  • work together to identify and implement the changes needed to address child poverty in the long term.

More information on how the system map was developed can be found below:  

Local statistics

The main poverty data source, the Family Resources Survey, provides information at national level only.

The first alternative data source listed below is partially comparable to the national-level statistics in the Poverty and Income Inequality in Scotland annual publication.

The other alternative sources are not directly comparable with the official poverty estimates.

Children in low income families local statistics

These Official Statistics give the number of children living in low income families across the UK by local area. The term 'low income' here refers to being below the poverty threshold.

These statistics complement the offical child poverty statistics, and are calibrated to the 3-year average estimates for Scotland and the other nations and regions in the UK. Therefore, the total number of children in poverty in Scotland in this measure matches the official estimates for Scotland.

These statistics have replaced DWP’s Children in out-of-work benefit households and HMRC’s Personal Tax Credits: Children in low income families local measure. The limitations of the former releases have been addressed and the current statistics provide a more coherent picture of children in low income families for both relative and absolute measures before housing costs.

These statistics are available for a range of local areas including local authority, ward and data zone level:

An interactive map showing the data at data zone level has been developed by the Improvement Service

Local child poverty dashboard of indicators

This dashboard provides a selection of data available at local authority level that can be used to monitor child poverty and its drivers locally. The indicators presented in this dashboard cannot measure child poverty directly in the same way as the indicators used for the national child poverty targets set out in the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017. Data to inform the national targets are from the Family Resources and Understanding Society surveys, which can only provide statistics at Scotland level.

The content of this dashboard does not aim to provide a complete picture of the issue of child poverty locally. It offers an example of publicly available data that can help understand the local context for child poverty and its drivers. Other relevant information is available to local authorities and health boards through local sources, including research and operational information on service delivery.

Children in families with limited resources

These experimental statistics provide estimates of the proportion of children in families with limited resources by local authority area and household characteristics. The purpose of this limited resources local measure is to provide area breakdowns to inform local planning. The data is based on the Scottish Household Survey. 

The limited resources measure looks at children in families that have low income and cannot afford three or more out of a list of 22 basic necessities. Families are defined as being on a low income if the household income is below 70% of the Scottish median after housing costs.

The tables show estimates of the proportion of children who live in families with limited resources by local authority area, health board and household characteristics.

End Child Poverty local estimates

The Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University has developed estimates of local levels of child poverty for the End Child Poverty coalition since 2013. The most recent after housing costs estimates using a revised methodology were published in May 2021 at local authority and parliamentary constituency level across the UK for 2014-15 to 2019-20.

Users should note that figures shown are synthetic modelled estimates based on the DWP/HMRC children in low income families local measure. The effects of housing costs on child poverty rates are modelled by looking at household survey data alongside local area statistics on private rent levels.

There is an inherent level of uncertainty associated with this methodological approach which is difficult to quantify, and figures for small areas may fluctuate markedly as a result of random variation. Therefore rates of change observed in specific locations need to be treated with some caution.

Small area income estimates

Please note that this publication contains poverty estimates, but no child poverty estimates.

The Scottish Government commissioned Heriot-Watt University in association with David Simmonds Consultancy to develop small area estimates of gross household income. The most recent publication in November 2020 presents data for 2015, 2017 and 2018, and includes the distribution of modelled household weekly income at data zone level (based on the commissioned research) and local authority level (based on an secondary analysis by Scottish Government). 

The estimates were primarily produced for housing affordability purposes. As such they are based on gross income. This is different from the usual measures of income and poverty which are based on net income.  This measure should therefore be considered an approximate estimate only, but may be of interest for local level poverty related analysis.

Measuring poverty

This document aims to explain the terminology, definitions and methodology used to calculate the official poverty and household income measures. It also includes information on uncertainty around the published estimates.

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