Best Start, Bright Futures: tackling child poverty delivery plan 2022 to 2026

The second tackling child poverty delivery plan due under the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017. Outlining action for the period 2022 to 2026.

Scotland's offer to families

We want families to be financially secure and have access to the services and support they need to thrive – helping to make material improvements in the lives and wellbeing of families across Scotland.

Scotland's offer to families sets out actions which directly impact on the drivers of poverty reduction and which are designed to improve engagement with the drivers.

  • Part A focuses on providing the opportunities and support needed to enter, sustain and progress in work – delivered through a new employability offer to parents, improvements to the support structures needed including through childcare and transport, and wider changes to transform our economy and deliver a fair work future for Scotland.
  • Part B focuses on maximising the support available for families to lead dignified lives and meet their basic needs – delivered through a transformational approach to people and places, strengthened support through social security and income maximisation and delivery of warm and affordable homes.

To tackle child poverty beyond 2030, Scotland's offer to families also sets out actions to improve the lives and experiences of children and young people, preventing them becoming the next generation of parents with children in poverty.

  • Part C focuses on supporting the next generation to thrive – ensuring the best start to life, supporting children to grow and learn and on post-school transitions – delivered through a range of interventions underpinned by our GIRFEC approach, commitment to Keep the Promise and tackle the poverty related attainment gap, and through investment in the Young Person's Guarantee.

For these actions to have the desired impact, they must come together and offer a seamless package of support to families in Scotland.

Graphic text below:

  • Employability and skills
  • Connectivity and Childcare
  • Economic opportunities
  • Person-centred support
  • Social Security
  • Income maximisation
  • Housing
  • Next Generation

Scotland working together to deliver differently

At the heart of this plan is the recognition that to tackle child poverty, we must come together as a nation and work differently to focus on the needs of our priority families. Only by doing so, and ensuring that systems work for the people who need them most, will we be able to deliver the transformation needed to reach the ambitious targets set for 2030.

We have heard from parents and stakeholders that, whilst many of the building blocks for tackling child poverty are in place, the system of support is complicated to navigate, and is not delivering the optimal outcomes for families. Across all elements of Scotland's offer to families we know we need to focus on delivery, and that realising the transformational change needed will be challenging.

We will seek to test this transformation through the following two approaches:

  • Local pathfinders
  • Supporting innovation

Local Pathfinders

In the coming year, we will identify a small number of pathfinder areas to commence work on a new phased approach to whole system, person-centred support, delivered with dignity, respect and kindness.

Within these pathfinders, we will work with partners to refine, test, adapt and scale different approaches to provide person-centred solutions. We will underpin these pathfinder projects with evidence and learning to inform and improve our delivery approach, with the ambition to deliver at scale over the life of this plan.

We will invest up to £5 million in 2022-23 from the Tackling Child Poverty Fund to support the work of pathfinders. We will also seek to leverage Whole Family Wellbeing Funding to support the aims of pathfinders, and increase the impact of existing funding through identifying and removing barriers to effective delivery. The lessons learned and evidence generated will inform future delivery of the plan, and ensure we are making the most of our investments and assets to have the maximum impact on child poverty.

We acknowledge the risks that some stakeholders raised, that place based approaches have often not adequately understood, incorporated or delivered on equalities priorities – with particular concern on the relationship between place based approaches and disability, gender and racial equality. To address this, we will look to further develop an intersectional approach to inequalities through the pathfinder approach, working in partnership with representatives of priority family types and equality stakeholders, and, as far as it is possible, strengthen our understanding of intersectional inequalities through pathfinder activities.

A key element of this will be a focus on data collection, analysis and use to understand if the policies contained in this plan are making a difference for the priority families.

Local Approach – Glasgow Pathfinder

During the pandemic, people across Scotland came together to tackle problems, working across barriers in order to give people the help they needed.

Child poverty is no less of a crisis than the pandemic, and to tackle it we need the same commitment from every level of organisations, to empower people at the front line to act to help the person in front of them.

Glasgow City Council, the Scottish Government, COSLA and the Improvement Service have agreed to work together to integrate child poverty interventions from partners across the city – tying together services that work and are focused around the individuals and families who need them.

Rather than individuals in poverty needing to actively seek out support from several different avenues, we will bring together the services they need – so families in contact with services in the city will be connected with the benefits and support they are entitled to, as well as employability and other support to thrive, live well and maximise independence.

We will establish ways to share data so that we can proactively offer services to those that need them, and can ensure every contact counts in getting the help and support that families need.

Doing so will inevitably flush out barriers and problems, and we will put in place shared leadership to tackle them as they arise, ensuring the programme improves – but starts to make a difference to people's lives right away.

We will evaluate the project to take lessons from it to inform other work across the city, the region and more widely, which can be adapted to ensure it remains relevant and appropriate in each place.

Local Approach – Dundee Pathfinder

To break the cycle of child poverty we know we need to do things differently. We also know that families' stories, needs and circumstances are individual and specific to them, that one approach across Scotland will not suit everyone, and that local approaches are able to support improved and sustained positive outcomes.

Through a partnership approach, Dundee City Council, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Scottish Government will work together to deliver a pathfinder project in Dundee. We want to test how we can do things differently and in a more person-centred way, drawing on the experience of local partners and grassroots organisations to understand how we can do that. We will apply what we know works in tackling child poverty, but also seek to better understand what we don't know and how we can do better.

Most importantly, we will listen closely to the experiences shared by those families working with us, to understand individual stories and barriers to identify gaps in services or barriers to access, using what we learn to drive change and create opportunities to resolve these in a person centred way.

In doing so we will make best use of the information and intelligence available to us as a partnership, using this to help us plan and to track progress and outcomes, changing or stopping approaches if they do not work for the family. This will allow us to ensure families are aware of and have access to all of the support available to them, including financial support.

We are committed to tackling child poverty together through this local approach, and to test new ways of working, sharing the learning and building on what works in Dundee to inform other work across Scotland.

We are clear that this is about all of Scotland, and recognise that many of our rural and island communities face different challenges and barriers, and have unique assets that can be brought to bear in tackling child poverty.

We will act on the findings of our recent Rural and Islands Child Poverty research, and take early, targeted action to tackling child poverty in rural settings, focusing on unique solutions rooted in these communities. This will follow the pathfinder approach, supporting local actors to test different community based solutions, building partnerships, improving data and monitoring of actions.

Supporting innovation

We have invested approximately £11 million in the Social Innovation Partnership (SIP) since 2016 alongside our partner the Hunter Foundation, testing, scaling and learning from a range of innovative approaches to tackling poverty and inequality. By drawing on learning from SIP investments, we have developed a distinctive wellbeing and capabilities approach to tackling poverty and inequality that is about supporting people to live flourishing lives based on what matters to them. The approach recognises the importance of personal wellbeing, human connection, a sense of belonging and tailored support towards positive destinations based on what matters to people as key foundations for a good life.

We will scale this approach through our Flourishing Lives model that brings these elements together to deliver holistic and person-centred support pathways out of poverty, enabling families to thrive. We will also seek to address systemic barriers that prevent people from living a flourishing life by working strategically with a number of local authority partners to create more capability-enhancing systems and infrastructure. Backed by up to £9.75 million of investment in 2022-23 our action will focus on the following key steps.

We will seek to work with 300 people in 2022-23, to further test and scale our Flourishing Lives Model of providing adaptable, relational and person-centred support that strengthens personal wellbeing, addresses short-term needs and supports longer-term aspirations including readiness for employment and other positive destinations. We will scale this approach in future years, aiming to extend support to up to 3,000 people by 2026, drawing on the assets of local authority partners, communities and social impact organisations.

We will work with a range of partners to design and deliver more accessible funded childcare options that are responsive to the needs of families within their communities. We will target families and communities with greatest need, engaging with trusted community organisations and using existing infrastructure where we can.

We will also work closely with a selection of employers to promote flexible working and wellbeing in the workplace to enable parents to make choices they value around achieving a good work-life balance.

We will work with a selection of local authorities to transition to more enabling models of support through Family Wellbeing Partnerships – drawing on existing partnerships with Clackmannanshire Council and the Tayside Collaborative, where we are using a programme of values-based leadership to help create the enabling conditions for change.

Through these approaches we will ensure that services operate in a seamless and person-centred way for those we are seeking to support. We will encourage and test innovative approaches and leverage in the expertise of partners, learning from what works and sharing best practice to inform wider system change.

Case study: MsMissMrs – wellbeing and capabilities

Annabelle* is a young mother who has experienced a family breakdown, homelessness, unemployment, and poor mental health and self-esteem.

When her little girl was around two, Annabelle was introduced to MsMissMrs, a project which supports and promotes the wellbeing of women and girls experiencing challenges in their lives. Annabelle received support from MsMissMrs around her social, emotional, physical and mental wellbeing, including how to manage social boundaries and learning about the importance of self-care.

With increasing confidence and self-esteem, Annabelle was able to take up part-time employment with MsMissMrs through permitted work, which allowed her to manage the pace at which she move back to full employment without affecting critical benefits.

Thanks to this additional income Annabelle was able to decorate her flat, reduce her debts, go on her first ever holiday and get her driver's licence. Through her work Annabelle is also building relationships with new people and her wider community.

Annabelle has increased her working hours and income and recently completed a college course, and feels she now has a purpose and has been able to make a better life for herself and daughter.

* name changed



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