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Child poverty

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 ultimately eradicate 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.

Tackling child poverty as part of a wider strategy

The Child Poverty Act is part of the Fairer Scotland Action Plan, which sets our overall strategy for tackling poverty and inequality in Scotland.

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

We published Every Child, Every Chance: the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2018-2022 on 29 March 2018. This plan sets out actions to be taken to progress towards the ambitious child poverty targets set for 2030.

The first annual progress report, published in June 2019, outlines the steps taken since the plan was introduced.

The second annual progress report was published in August 2020.

Local Child Poverty Action Reports

In June 2018 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 these reports and other support materials can be found on the Improvement Service website.

Further information

We regularly publish: