Chapter 1: Background and Scope
The EQIA is set out in 3 chapters.
The first chapter sets out the background to the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act, the first Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan Every Child, and Every Chance: the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2018-2022, background for the second delivery plan and the scope of this EQIA.
The second chapter summarises what we know about child poverty related to the protected characteristics.
Finally, the third chapter takes a strategic look across the policies and proposals in the plan to identify impacts related to the protected characteristics, and set out where specific actions or mitigations are needed to enhance positive impacts or mitigate potential negative impacts.
The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 sets in statute four income based child poverty targets to be met by 2030/31, with interim targets to be met by 2023/24. The targets are largely focused on household income, while also taking into account wider costs of living through the material deprivation measure. The targets to be met are:
- Fewer than 18% of children living in families in relative poverty in 2023-24, reducing to fewer than 10% by 2030. This means fewer than one in ten children living in households on low incomes by 2030, compared to the average UK household.
- Fewer than 14% of children living in families in absolute poverty in 2023-24, reducing to fewer than 5% by 2030. This means fewer than one in twenty children living in low income households where living standards are not increasing by 2030.
- Fewer than 8% of children living in families living in combined low income and material deprivation in 2023-24, reducing to fewer than 5% by 2030. This means fewer than one in twenty children living in low income households who can't afford basic essential goods and services by 2030
- Fewer than 8% of children living in families in persistent poverty in 2023-24, reducing to fewer than 5% by 2030. This means fewer than one in twenty children living in households in poverty for three years out of four by 2030.
The Act also requires Scottish Ministers to publish child poverty delivery plans at regular intervals, with annual reports to measure progress[5,6,7]. 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 first Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan Every Child, Every Chance: the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2018-2022 was published on 29 March 2018 and sets out the actions to be taken to progress towards the ambitious child poverty targets set out for 2030. Since then three annual progress reports have been published in June 2019, August 2020, and June 2021, outlining the steps that have been taken since the plan was introduced.
Poverty affects a wide range of families with a variety of protected characteristics. However, almost 90% of all children in poverty in Scotland live within the six priority family types: lone parent families, minority ethnic families, families with a disabled member, families with a child under one, families with a young mother (<25) and larger families (3+ children).
These priority family types each relate to one or more protected characteristics. The most recent evidence (Annex 6) suggests that the priority groups identified in the first plan continue to experience poverty at a higher rate than the rest of the population. Therefore, each policy or proposal in the new Plan will continue to target action towards these priority groups and we will aim to enhance our monitoring and evaluations of the impacts each policy has against these groups.
It is important to note there is significant intersectionality within these groups, and whilst we will focus our efforts on those most at risk of experiencing child poverty, we will use the priority family types as lenses through which we address the key barriers experienced by different groups. For example, among children in relative poverty:
- 40% of children in lone parent families also have a disabled family member;
- Over half (54%) of children in a family with a younger mother are also in a lone parent family and
- Half (50%) of children in families with three or more children are also in a family in which someone is disabled.
Families with experience of multiple disadvantage are often among those deepest in poverty and experience most barriers and challenges to get out of poverty. Most of these families are also likely to fall into at least one of our priority groups. Therefore, it is important that policies are mindful of the intersectionality, specific support needs and multiple barriers people can face.
Since the publication of the first delivery plan, there have been significant changes and challenges which have impacted on the lives and experiences of children and families across Scotland, including EU Exit, Covid-19 and the current cost of living crisis.
Covid-19 has dramatically affected every area of life in Scotland. However, we know the impact has not been felt evenly, with those who were already the most disadvantaged suffering disproportionately, including lower income households, minority ethnic communities and disabled people.
The impact of Covid-19 on child poverty levels is still largely unknown, particularly the long term effects on families, communities, society and our economy. However, we know that for many people, the disadvantages they face have been further exacerbated and they often have been the hardest hit by Covid-19, socially, educationally, economically and in terms of physical and mental wellbeing. Covid-19 has also led to an increase in childhood adversity and trauma, which can have a lasting effect on people's life outcomes, further compounding poverty. As a result of Covid-19, Scotland saw a 108% rise in the number of emergency food parcels distributed in July 2020 compared with July 2019.
The Scope of the EQIA
This EQIA sets out evidence of the impact of child poverty on groups with protected characteristics, and describes how measures have been arrived at to address negative impacts or promote positive impacts and advance equality or good relations.
The first delivery plan set out that poverty results from the inter-relationship between three key drivers:
- Income from employment;
- Income from social security and benefits in kind; and
- Costs of living
The evidence review has shown that this driver approach remains relevant and appropriate. Therefore, this approach has been maintained for the second delivery plan which includes a range of policies and proposals that will impact on all three drivers. Chapter 2 of the EQIA seeks to identify evidence of impact on groups with protected characteristics for the key drivers.
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