Child poverty

Cost of living crisis: find out what help is available

Around one in four children in Scotland lives in poverty.

We find this figure unacceptable, especially in a modern, thriving country like ours. That is why we are working hard to reduce child poverty.

Child Poverty Act

In February 2017 we introduced the Child Poverty Bill to the Scottish Parliament, which sets out targets to reduce the number of children experiencing the effects of poverty by 2030.

Following scrutiny the Bill was passed unanimously in the Scottish Parliament in November 2017, receiving Royal Assent in December 2017.

The Act sets statutory targets which:

  • help focus our efforts to tackle and reduce child poverty
  • help monitor progress
  • are in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)

The targets state that by 2030, of children living in Scottish households:

  • less than 10% should be living in relative poverty (how many families are on low incomes compared with middle income households)
  • less than 5% should be living in absolute poverty (how many low income families are not seeing their living standards improving over time)
  • less than 5% should be living with combined low income and material deprivation (how many lower income families cannot afford basic necessities)
  • less than 5% should be living in persistent poverty (how many families live on low incomes three years out of four)

The Act requires Scottish Ministers to publish child poverty delivery plans at regular intervals, with annual reports to measure progress.

Local authorities and health boards must also jointly publish annual reports on what they are doing to reduce child poverty in the local area.

The Act also established a statutory Poverty and Inequality Commission from 1 July 2019. More information about the commission can be found on its website.

The core principles of the Act are further strengthened by the:

They are all designed to ensure that children's interests and rights are placed at the centre of our policy considerations.

Child Poverty Delivery Plan

Our first delivery plan, ‘Every Child, Every Chance: the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2018-2022’, was published on 29 March 2018. We published annual progress reports outlining the steps taken toward the plan’s objectives. The final progress report due under this Plan was published in June 2022.

We published our second delivery plan, ‘Best Start, Bright Futures: Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2022-2026’, on 24 March 2022. This plan sets out further actions to be taken to progress towards the ambitious child poverty targets set for 2030. Our first progress report for this plan was published in June 2023.

‘Best Start, Bright Futures’ focuses on tackling the three drivers of poverty: income from employment, costs of living, income from social security and benefits in kind.

The actions in our second delivery plan target the six priority family groups at highest risk of poverty: lone parent families, minority ethnic families, families with a disabled adult or child, families with a younger mother (under 25), families with a child under one, and larger families (3+ children).

Local Child Poverty Action Reports

We published non-statutory guidance to aid in preparation of Local Child Poverty Action Reports.

The guidance is complimented by a range of additional support, including the appointment of a National Child Poverty Coordinator, located in the Improvement Service, and analytical support provided by the Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit in Glasgow Caledonian University.

The first Local Child Poverty Action Reports due under the Child Poverty Act were published in June 2019. Links to published Local Child Poverty Action Reports and other support materials can be found on the Improvement Service website.

Further information

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

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