Ministerial foreword - Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government
Tackling child poverty is the Scottish Government's national mission and we know it will take all in society to work together to deliver the change needed. This Delivery Plan sets out the bold and ambitious actions that we will take with partners across Scotland to provide the support families need both immediately and in the medium to longer term. Through these actions we can deliver sustainable progress towards our 2030 targets and deliver our vision for a fairer and more prosperous Scotland.
Over the past four years of our first Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, 'Every Child, Every Chance', we have delivered considerable new support for families, embodied by the massive expansion of funded early learning and childcare, our devolved employment services and Scotland's unique family benefits. Together with the wider action set out in the plan we have both delivered immediate improvements to families' lives, and enhanced the life-long outcomes of children and young people across the country.
I am proud that the actions of this government and partners over the past four years, together with those set out in this Plan, are projected to deliver the lowest levels of child poverty in Scotland in the last 30 years. This means that by 2023-24, the year of our interim targets, using current projections we anticipate that around 17% of children will live in relative poverty, with more than 60,000 fewer children living in poverty since the Act was passed in 2017.
This is despite the major economic uncertainty and significant impact of COVID-19 on our economy and society. The pandemic highlighted even more the disproportionate impact major events can have on some parts of society. It brought into sharp relief that our focus on tackling and reducing poverty and inequality in our society, alongside the ability for us to pull together as a nation and deliver the change needed, is absolutely the right one to have.
I welcome the progress made and know we are building on strong foundations as we move to deliver the ambitious targets we have set for 2030. This Plan outlines the actions we will take – including policies which will deliver transformational change.
We had already announced our intention to increase the unique Scottish Child Payment – introduced as part of our first Delivery Plan – to £20 from April. In this plan we show how we are going to go further by increasing the Scottish Child Payment to £25 per week per child, when it is extended to eligible children under 16 by the end of this year. We will also work with our local authorities to mitigate the UK Government's Benefit Cap, which hits our priority families the hardest, to the greatest extent possible, backed by investment of up to £10 million each year.
To deliver sustained reductions in child poverty over the longer term and break the cycle of child poverty, we will work with partners to provide the integrated and holistic support parents need to enter quality employment, improve their wider wellbeing and engage with the drivers of poverty reduction. So we will significantly increase investment in our employment support services with an additional £53 million to scale up the No One Left Behind employment approach to reach up to 50,000 parents and provide a new £15 million transitions fund to support people into work. This will be alongside further developing and increasing access to childcare and focusing on delivery of a truly 'no-wrong door' approach to public services.
As a Government we will lead the way, focusing on how we can enable this change through our investments, policies and approaches. We are also committed to supporting families impacted by the current cost of living crisis which could be exacerbated further by world events. People will shortly start to receive £150 payments as part of our £290 million package to help tackle soaring energy bills.
The 2030 targets require us to work differently – placing an ever greater focus on families and the places they live. Through phased approaches to change, working in a small number of localities, we can identify the barriers to progress and the keys to removing these for families and partners.
The actions in this Plan are informed by the views, experiences and knowledge of our partners – including our Poverty and Inequality Commission and people who have experienced the damaging impacts of poverty first hand – and I am grateful to each and every person and organisation that has shared their invaluable insights with us. I look forward to continuing this engagement and partnership as we focus on delivery of these ambitious actions.
The actions for families which are set out in this Plan are rightly ambitious, requiring tough decisions to be made in the years ahead to deliver within the fixed budget available to this government, but by working together we can deliver the support families need and drive progress toward a fairer future for Scotland.
Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government
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