by The Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities
This Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan is the first crucial step in our journey towards meeting the ambitious targets set out in the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017. The Act is a landmark piece of legislation that clearly positions Scotland as leading in the UK on tackling child poverty. It is a clear statement of the Scottish Government's intent to eradicate child poverty and this first Delivery Plan, covering the period 2018-22, will make a real difference to children's lives.
Poverty is fundamentally about lack of income. That's why the targets in the Act focus primarily on income measures and why the majority of the actions set out in this Plan are aimed specifically at increasing family incomes or reducing costs. Action here will help children and families now. However, we will also do more to help families lessen the impacts of poverty and improve children's quality of life so that, ultimately, their life chances are improved. This will also help lower the risk that they themselves will be raising their own children in poverty in 2030.
Every part of government has a role in reducing child poverty and others need to play their full part too. That's why the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act also includes a local reporting duty, which will require local authorities and health boards to work together to report annually on what they are doing to tackle child poverty. We also want to ensure that everyone across Scotland has a stake in ending child poverty: this Plan's Partnership Working chapter explains how we're going to do just that.
The Plan more broadly is the result of partnership - across parliament, with stakeholders, with parents, and with children and young people, many of whom will be parents themselves in 2030. I'd like to thank everyone involved, but most of all I'd like to thank two groups. First, the Children's Parliament, whose consideration of the issues is threaded through this Plan in clever and insightful quotes. And second, the Poverty and Inequality Commission, which the Scottish Government established in July 2017; the Commission's advice on how to reduce child poverty has been invaluable and is reflected throughout the Plan.
As a government, of course, we don't have control of every lever that could reduce child poverty; external issues - such as UK Government policy changes or global economic problems - can also act as barriers to our goal. But we need to be aware of these external impacts and be able to respond wherever we can - as we have in relation to the bedroom tax, for instance. And we need to be making a compelling case for more powers - as we will be doing - so that we can do even more to help.
In short, if we work together and do our very best, we can end child poverty. And we must. It's simply not acceptable that so many children in Scotland live in poverty. In a country as prosperous as Scotland, no child should have their chances limited by poverty. In the Year of Young People 2018, we are determined to demonstrate, by our actions, that Every Child deserves Every Chance.
Angela Constance MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities
by The Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills
The Scottish Government wants to build an inclusive, fair, prosperous, innovative country, ready and willing to embrace the future - and we've already made considerable progress. A key component of this is our pledge in legislation to eradicate child poverty.
Over recent years, we have developed our economy, created and protected jobs and businesses, and made record investments in our public services and social and physical infrastructure. We want the economic growth delivered in Scotland - by individuals, communities, businesses, and others - to support high quality jobs, decent wages and excellent public services to benefit everyone in our country.
Improving the education and life chances of children and young people is the defining mission of this Government. Our vision is simple: to deliver excellence and equity in Scottish education from early years through to college and university. All children and young people, whatever their background or circumstances, deserve the same chance to reach their full potential. Our investment to close the poverty-related attainment gap is aimed at helping children to do just this. If we can help deliver the skills, support and experiences children and young people need to fulfil their ambitions, we will together make Scotland the economic success we want it to be, with very low levels of child poverty.
More broadly, public services and those who work in them support low income families in a range of crucial ways. Over the last 10 years, public services have become better integrated and more responsive to the needs of our diverse communities. By focusing on those who most require support and redesigning the way in which some services are provided, we will make sure we are using public resources in the long-term interests of the country.
The Fairer Scotland we want everyone to benefit from is one that genuinely advances equality and protects and enhances socio-economic rights and children's rights. And it really will take all of us to build this Fairer Scotland - with its fairer economy, excellent education system and reformed and improved services - if we are to meet our child poverty obligations.
Despite these strong foundations, the challenge is still considerable. We are living in a time of austerity imposed by the UK Government, with real-terms cuts set to continue, reducing family incomes and the resources available to the Scottish Government to mitigate poverty's damaging impacts. With Brexit adding further pressures and risks to our economy, some might argue that this is not a good time to be aiming to eradicate child poverty. The Scottish Government profoundly disagrees. That families are more at risk from poverty now than for a generation strengthens the case for making sure all our children and young people get the best start in life.
So we're investing in a whole host of ways to deliver the targets, including a new Tackling Child Poverty Fund, worth £50 million. This investment benefits all of us because everyone pays for poverty: governments spend huge amounts of tax-payers' money mitigating the short- and long-term effects of lives lived on low income. It's better for society - and for the economy - to prevent these negative outcomes by investing now to help every child have every chance.
There are no quick fixes - we simply need to do all that we can with the powers and the resources we have available. This will inevitably take time, but this Plan offers a strong and determined start. As a society, we should be doing everything we can to secure the best outcome for future generations. After all, what is good for children now is good for all of us, now and in the future when we will, in turn, be relying on them. It is our duty to help and support all our children and young people to give them the best start we can.
John Swinney MSP
Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills