Foreword from the Deputy First Minister
Nicola Sturgeon MSP
Deputy First Minister
There is no doubt in my mind that tackling child poverty remains of fundamental importance to the success of our country - whether that is in education, employment or indeed to our overall prosperity.
In my foreword to the 2013 Annual Report, I highlighted the waste of human potential and the injustice of poverty as identified in the 2011 Child Poverty Strategy for Scotland. Much has changed since 2011 and the latest published figures show decreases in the numbers of children living in poverty. We should be proud of the progress we are making. But we should also be concerned that these numbers remain far too high and that driven by the UK Government's pernicious welfare reforms, the number of Scottish children living in poverty is expected to increase significantly. Indeed, the Institute for Fiscal Studies are predicting that an additional 50,000 Scottish children will be living in poverty by 2020.
The UK Child Poverty Act required the Scottish Government to publish that Strategy in 2011 and it requires us to produce this revision three years later. I welcome the opportunity this gives us to outline the progress we have made and are committed to making in key areas such as childcare, education and youth employment. However, it highlights for me the constraints the current constitutional settlement places on our ability to deliver the step changes in tackling child poverty we aspire to.
Scotland's Future sets out the gains of independence for Scotland and the current Scottish Government's vision and priorities for action as the first Government of an independent Scotland. These include actions on taxation, wage levels, welfare and benefits and a transformational extension of childcare. All of which would have a significant impact on child poverty.
In the meantime, the Child Poverty Act says that our Child Poverty Strategy can only refer to actions using our current devolved powers. This document therefore sets out our approach under three headings - pockets, prospects and places - which are key to tackling child poverty and consistent with the approach we set out in 2011. That approach was strongly supported in meetings with stakeholders on this revision, following which we have been able to further develop actions in areas of importance identified in those discussions.
It also takes that approach a step further through an outcomes framework which identifies key areas of activity in relation to the aims of maximising household resources, improving life chances and maintaining well-designed, sustainable places.
I will continue to work with the Ministerial Advisory Group on Child Poverty and all interested parties across Scotland to take this work forward.
In particular, we will be consulting with internal and external stakeholders to agree a set of indicators for measuring progress against the outcomes as part of a full measurement framework. These indicators should enable us to draw conclusions about progress in tackling child poverty both across the Scottish Government and more broadly. They will be used to facilitate annual reporting against our desired outcomes over the life of this Strategy and beyond.
Email: Welfare Division