4. Monitoring and reviewing progress
4.1 National measures
Child Poverty Act Targets: Broadly stated, the UK-wide child poverty targets 52 provided for in the Child Poverty Act are:
- The relative low income target - that less than 10% of children live in households that have a household income of less than 60% of median household income.
- The combined low income and material deprivation target - that less than 5% of children live in households that have a household income of less than 70% of median household income and experience material deprivation.
- The absolute low income target - that less than 5% of children live in households that have a household income of less than 60% of the median household income for the financial year starting on 1 April 2010 53.
- The persistent poverty target - to reduce the proportion of children that experience long periods of relative poverty (that is to reduce the percentage of children who live in households that have a household income of less than 60% of the median household income for three years out of a four-year period) with the specific target percentage to be set at a later date 54.
Progress towards meeting the first three child poverty targets is already reported on an annual basis in the Poverty and Income Inequality Statistics bulletin 55. Progress at UK level is reported in the annual publication of statistics on Households Below Average Income 56.
With respect to the persistent poverty target, robust estimates for Scotland will be available from the UK Household Longitudinal Survey. Interim estimates of persistent poverty based on the British Household Panel Survey have been developed in liaison with analysts from Department for Work and Pensions. These will be published, along with estimates of the proportion of children in relative poverty; absolute poverty; and material deprivation and low income combined, in "Poverty and Income Inequality in Scotland: 2009/10" during May 2011.
Measuring progress against the child poverty targets must be considered within the wider context of improving outcomes for children. The UK Government's recent consultation sought views on the recommendations of the Frank Field review, to augment the income poverty and material deprivation indicators in the Child Poverty Act with other measures (such as new measures of 'life chances' based on a child's early development, service quality, and severe poverty). We will work further with the UK Government to ensure that our approach to monitoring and reporting is consistent where possible and appropriate. However there are already robust mechanisms in place within Scotland for measuring and reporting on wider measures of children's wellbeing, detailed below.
The Scottish Government will continue to work with external bodies to develop and refine the evidence base on poverty in Scotland, such as the Economic and Social Research Council's 'Poverty and Social Exclusion in the United Kingdom' project 57.
National Performance Framework: Reducing levels of child poverty and alleviating its impacts are reflected throughout the National Performance Framework. The most relevant measures are detailed in section 2 of this paper. All of our national Purpose targets, outcomes and indicators are reported on annually in Scotland Performs 58.
General health indicators and reporting: There are also a number of general public health and health improvement measures which help to measure progress in tackling poverty, ranging from rates of smoking, drug misuse and alcohol consumption to data on sexual health outcomes. These can be accessed from the Information Statistics Division of NHS National Services Scotland 59.
4.2 Local measures
Single outcome agreements: In terms of specific child poverty indicators within SOAs, the Scottish Government recommends using the number of children living in households in receipt of out of work benefits or in receipt of Child Tax Credit rather than the family element as one of the best proxy indicators available at local authority level 60. However CPPs may approach child poverty through a range of policies and actions, and use associated indicators to measure the multi-dimensional causes and impacts of poverty and deprivation on children and families.
An SOA overview report will be published in March 2011. It will consider progress being made in taking forward the local outcomes approach overall, including a description of how local partners are pursuing economic recovery and the 3 social frameworks agreed with COSLA, and other case studies, as well as messages from the latest SOA annual reports.
Early Years indicators and reporting: Scottish Government and local partners have issued a structured suite of indicators 61 covering early years outcomes to complement those national and local indicators that already exist in the National Performance Framework for local performance purposes/ SOA agreements.
The indicators are neither mandatory nor prescriptive, and are to be seen as a tool for CPPs to support them in evidencing the success of early years policies and assessing whether they are on course to achieving better outcomes for children in their areas.
Scottish Public Health Observatory Children and Young People Profiles: In addition to the work that is planned and ongoing within the Scottish Government, Scot PHO's profiles provide a valuable addition to the collation and analysis of indicators at local level. These profiles present information for a set of indicators of the health and wellbeing of children and young people in Scotland 62. This resource draws together a broad range of information, including data on ill health, health behaviour, education, crime, maternal health, and poverty, and is intended to assist with prioritisation, planning services and addressing inequalities at a local level. The profiles are available at Community Health (and Care) Partnership ( CHP) level, with data provided for smaller geographies where possible.
While there are no current plans to repeat this exercise, some of the key indicators from the children and young people profiles will also be included in the ongoing series of Scottish Public Health Observatory community profiles 63.
4.3 Support for monitoring child poverty at local level
Good quality local data is vital for the development of local plans to tackle child poverty, and for measuring progress.
The Scottish Government website provides guidance on data sources and suitability 64. It describes some of the main official data sources available to statistical users interested in income and poverty in Scotland. The reliability, accuracy and suitability of each source is discussed. Stakeholders are also kept informed about ongoing and future developments in official income and poverty statistics through our website.
A wider range of capacity building work undertaken by the Scottish Government also takes place to support local monitoring - for example workshops to support local 'poverty profiling' and seminars to promote the new suite of early years indicators. This will continue and activities will be widely promoted through our networks.
The Scottish Government is also working to improve the quality of data available at local level. We are currently developing relative poverty estimates at Local Authority level, and progress on this work will be published on the Poverty and Income Inequality Statistics webpage throughout 2011.
4.4 Reviewing progress
Progress at national level, towards achieving the Government's Purpose and National Outcomes is measured through 7 Purpose Targets and 45 National Indicators and reported through www.scotlandperforms.com - the dynamic website which is continually updated whenever new data becomes available. Section 2 of this strategy sets out the targets and indicators most relevant to child poverty.
Annual progress reports on the child poverty strategy will be produced, and this strategy will be refreshed on a three-yearly basis.