Tackling child poverty

Insight from former Chair of Social Mobility Commission. 

Communities Secretary Angela Constance has reaffirmed a commitment to a strong approach to tackling child poverty and working collaboratively to secure this.

Ms Constance met with the former chair of the UK-wide Social Mobility Commission, Alan Milburn, to discuss the Scottish Government’s approach to tackling child poverty and improving social mobility. Mr Milburn resigned as chair of the commission last year.

This includes the recently passed Child Poverty Act, legislating to introduce statutory child poverty targets, establishing a Poverty and Inequality Commission, and committing £50 million to the Tackling Child Poverty Fund. 

It also provided an opportunity to draw on Mr Milburn’s experience as chair of the Commission and discuss what he viewed as the biggest challenges in addressing poverty, and action being taken to address this.

Ms Constance said:

“During his time as chair of the UK commission Alan was a tireless advocate for social mobility and tackling inequalities. I was pleased to discuss with him the pressing issues that we face in building a fairer country and learn from his experience.

“While we have long taken a different approach, there are deep concerns about the resignations from the Social Mobility Commission and where this leaves the body now. The impact of the failings Alan has levelled at the UK Government could have severe consequences for the whole UK. I am committed to learning from that experience and working in partnership to ensure we mitigate them.

“Tackling inequalities will never be an optional extra for this government – it is core to everything we do, as we strive to make Scotland fairer and more equal.”

Alan Milburn said:

“We had a highly constructive meeting where we discussed how to tackle poverty, narrow inequality and improve mobility. It is welcome that the Scottish government has set demanding targets to reduce child poverty. 

“That will require long-term effort and an holistic approach across education, employment, housing and welfare policies.  It will also require the government to work collaboratively with employers, councils, schools and universities. They all have a key role to play.”


In 2017 the Scottish Government established an independent Poverty and Inequality Commission for Scotland, chaired by Douglas Hamilton, and introduced the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill, which establishes Scotland as the only part of the UK with statutory targets to tackle child poverty.

Alan Milburn was appointed Chair of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission in 2012 – later changed to the Social Mobility Commission, when the UK Government abolished the Child Poverty Act 2010. The Scottish Government left the SMC in 2015 after the UK Government’s decision to remove child poverty from its remit and abolish child poverty targets.

The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament in November 2017. The Act will:

  • Set in statute targets to reduce child poverty by 2030
  • Place a duty on ministers to publish child poverty delivery plans at regular intervals and to report on progress annually
  • Place a duty on local authorities and health boards to report on child poverty annually on what they are doing to contribute to reducing child poverty
  • Establish a statutory Poverty and Inequality Commission from 1 July 2019

Angela Constance met with Alan Milburn at Scotland House on Monday, January 22.


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