Tackling child poverty delivery plan 2022-2026 - annex 6: what works - evidence review

This annex to the second tackling child poverty delivery plan 2022 to 2026 summarises the latest evidence on what works in tackling child poverty.

Research aims and approach

Research aims

The overarching aim of this research is to explore and present evidence around what works (and does not) to tackle child poverty. Specifically, it aims to answer the following research questions:

  • What is currently working well, and what should the Scottish Government and partners continue and do more of?
  • Are there policies, actions, or approaches that the Scottish Government and partners should stop doing or need to do differently?
  • What new policies, actions or approaches should the Scottish Government consider implementing?
  • What lessons from the COVID-19 response could be applied to tackling child poverty in the future?


This reports presents evidence from a rapid review of empirical evidence on what works to tackle child poverty. The search of evidence covered a wide range of sources, including: Idox; KandE; Policy Commons; ProQuest; and TRID databases. In addition to evaluations undertaken by the Scottish Government, stakeholder websites were also identified and searched for relevant empirical evidence to include in the review. Finally, stakeholder responses to the Scottish Government Child Poverty Delivery Plan consultation and call for evidence were reviewed to identify any additional or missing evidence sources.

Searches were carried out across the three key drivers of child poverty to identify policies or approaches that could impact on income from employment, income from social security and benefits in kind or costs of living. The searches were carried out separately but then cross-referenced against each other to identify areas of overlap and cross-cutting themes in tackling child poverty relevant to several or all drivers.

In order to capture evidence which has been published since the development and publication of the first Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan in 2018, evidence from the past five years was reviewed. Peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed evidence was included. The primary focus of the review was on evidence from Scotland and the United Kingdom but international evidence was also included where relevant.

In order to focus on what works (and does not) in tackling child poverty, the focus for inclusion in the review was on empirical evidence from evaluations of policies which have aimed to tackle child poverty where possible.


This was a rapid evidence review conducted in a short timescale, and not an exhaustive, systematic appraisal of the research evidence. While care was taken to assess the robustness of all evidence included, and to capture a full picture of what works, given the broad scope of this project across multiple drivers of poverty and deep dives into each priority family type, it should not be interpreted as a fully comprehensive review of all the relevant evidence.

In addition, while the focus of the review is to assess empirical evidence on what works in tackling child poverty, it should be acknowledged that the evidence base across the drivers of poverty and priority families is inconsistent and of varying quality. Where research gaps in empirical evidence do exist, these have been identified throughout the report.

Before moving on to the key findings of what works to tackle child poverty, we first present an overview of the context, including the child poverty targets and the range of families deeply affected by poverty.


Email: TCPU@gov.scot

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