2. Ending Child Poverty
An Ambition to End Child Poverty
Action 26 – Introduce A Child Poverty Bill
The Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill was introduced in February 2017 and the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 received Royal Assent on 12 December the same year. The Act sets in statute ambitious income-based targets towards the eradication of child poverty in Scotland.
On 29 March 2018, the Scottish Government published Every Child, Every Chance: The Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan – 2018-22, the first delivery plan due under the Act. The Plan sets out a range of action, across government portfolios, to address the key drivers of child poverty: income through work, household costs and income through social security. The Plan also takes account of the need to help families in other ways, as children and young people in poverty now may be parents themselves in 2030; and to work closely with our partners to deliver on our ambitions.
Key commitments within the Plan include £12 million investment in new parental employment support, a new agreed minimum amount for the School Clothing Grant of £100 and a commitment to bringing forward a new income supplement for low income families. Progress on both the delivery of actions and against the 2030 targets will be published by June 2019.
In last year's progress report, we outlined the establishment of a £50 million Tackling Child Poverty Fund aligned to the period of the first Delivery Plan. This has now been established and the Plan outlines investment decisions to date, to make progress on the targets. Almost half of this fund has already been committed with the remainder being invested in 2020 and 2021.
Maximising Family Incomes
Action 27 – Introduce A Baby Box To Help Reduce The Costs of Providing for A Child In The Early Days and Weeks Of Life That Some Families May Find Challenging
The baby box was introduced on 15 August 2017 and, in the first year of the programme, 52,065 baby boxes had been gifted, with an 85% uptake by parents.
Scotland's baby box strongly signals our determination that every child, regardless of their circumstances, should get the best start in life. Every baby born and registered in Scotland is eligible for a box, which is full of essential items needed in the first six months of a child's life. We will continue to work on promoting the box and encouraging expectant parents to register to ensure uptake remains high as the baby box becomes a normal part of pregnancy and birth across Scotland.
Action 28 – Create A New Best Start Grant
We want to accelerate the help we can give to new families so that every child has the best start in life. Therefore we have brought forward the launch of the Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment by six months. First applications were taken on 10 December and first payments made before Christmas. By providing £600 on the birth of their first child and £300 on the birth of any further children, we are putting more money into the pockets of families on lower incomes than the UK Government equivalent scheme. By paying families on lower incomes more money more quickly, we will support thousands of children across Scotland. This is the first step in our delivery of the Best Start Grant. Families get a further £250 for each of their children at key points in their early years, for early learning at the age of two or three and at around the time of starting school, by summer 2019.
Action 29 – Increase Entitlement to Free Early Learning and Childcare for All 3 and 4 Year Olds, As Well As Those 2 Year Olds That Stand to Benefit Most, To 1140 Hours Per Year By 2020
The Scottish Government is committed to almost doubling early learning and childcare (ELC) entitlement to 1140 hours per year by 2020 for all three and four year olds, and eligible two year olds. In March 2017 we published A Blueprint for 2020: 2017-18 Action Plan. This set out the policy vision and framework for delivering the expansion of the ELC entitlement.
To support the delivery of this transformative change, Scottish Ministers and COSLA leaders reached a landmark agreement on a multi-year revenue and capital funding package in April 2018. Under this agreement, we will provide local authorities with additional recurring revenue funding of £567 million per year by 2021-22, the first full financial year of the expansion, and £476 million of capital funding over four financial years from 2017-18 to 2020-21 inclusive.
A new Funding Follows the Child approach will be introduced from 2020, which will be underpinned by a National Standard that all providers delivering the funded entitlement will have to meet. This will ensure a high quality experience for children, whilst placing choice in the hands of parents and carers. We consulted jointly with COSLA on the new National Standard from March to June 2018, and will set out the final version by the end of 2018.
Action 30 – Reduce The Costs of School for Low Income Parents
We are taking further action to reduce the cost of school for low income parents. For example, earlier this year we reached an agreement with local authorities to introduce a national minimum school clothing grant of £100. Previously, the amount paid varied greatly across local authorities, with the lowest grant being £40. The new minimum grant has applied across all of Scotland from the start of the 2018-19 academic year.
As part of the Scottish Attainment Challenge, we have committed to providing Pupil Equity Funding until the end of the Parliamentary term, with £120 million being made available in both 2017-18 and 2018-19. This funding enables schools to tackle inequality and many are using this funding to help reduce the cost of the school day and its impacts on attainment.
The Scottish Government is also providing £31,500 of funding to the Child Poverty Action Group in 2018-19. This funding will allow them to continue to work with schools and authorities across Scotland to promote awareness of the financial barriers that pupils from low income families face at school.
We will continue to fund Young Scot to pilot a three year project (2017-18 to 2019-20) aimed at closing the poverty related attainment gap. By utilising the National Entitlement Card, Young Scot will deliver targeted and bespoke local entitlements and opportunities, focused on health and wellbeing, tackling inequalities, improving attainment and challenging rural poverty. Young Scot are working with local authorities in Renfrewshire, Highland and North Ayrshire to test the potential for the Young Scot Card to target benefits and opportunities at young people experiencing poverty.
Action 31 – Make The Council Tax System Fairer for Low Income Families
The Scottish Government has taken a number of steps to make Council Tax fairer. The Council Tax Reduction Scheme ensures that low income families are not required to meet a Council Tax liability they cannot afford. We enhanced the Council Tax Reduction scheme from April 2017 for families with children and around 46,000 households now benefit from this measure. By the end of this financial year, we will have invested over £1.4 billion in the Council Tax Reduction Scheme since 2013, helping around half a million households every year to pay their council tax bill. On average, households in receipt of assistance from the Council Tax Reduction Schemehave had their council tax bill reduced by almost £700 a year.
High Quality Education For All
Action 32 – Ensure That Every Nursery In our Most Deprived Areas Has An Additional Qualified Teacher or Childcare Graduate
The Scottish Government believes that children receiving early learning and childcare (ELC) must have access to highly qualified staff with expertise in early childhood learning and development. This is particularly true for young children who face the greatest disadvantages where additional support may be needed to deliver on our ambition to close the attainment gap.
We committed to working with local authorities to ensure that nurseries in Scotland's most deprived areas will benefit from an additional graduate (either a teacher or early years graduate with or working towards, for example, the BA in Childhood Practice). This commitment has created 435 new graduate level opportunities across Scotland. The posts have been allocated across authorities based on their share of nurseries in the 20% most deprived postcodes, with each local authority benefitting from at least one new post.
To ensure that this commitment benefits as many children as possible, local authorities were given flexibility to draw on their local data to prioritise how they allocate their additional teachers or graduates across settings. Local authorities submitted action plans in September 2017 setting out how they proposed to deliver the commitment in their area.
The Scottish Government is fully funding the commitment and, as set out in the Revenue Funding Allocation letter issued to local authorities on 22 February 2018, up to £18 million has been made available to local authorities in 2018-19 to enable them to pay the salaries of the additional graduates. Recurring revenue will be provided as part of the multi-year funding package for the ELC expansion agreed by Scottish Ministers and COSLA leaders.
Action 33 – Make Real Progress In Closing The Attainment Gap During The Lifetime of This Parliament and to Eliminate It, As Far As We Can, Over The Next Decade
The Scottish Attainment Challenge focuses on helping children most affected by the poverty-related attainment gap and helps raise standards for all in our schools. To support this ambition, over the lifetime of this Parliament we will invest £750 million in the Attainment Scotland Fund.
In 2018-19, the fourth year of the Challenge, £179 million of this funding has been committed. Of this, Pupil Equity Funding is providing £120 million directly to schools to be spent at the discretion of head teachers and school leaders in improving attainment, and £50 million to the Attainment Challenge Authorities and Schools Programmes in areas of high deprivation. This funding also supports a number of national programmes, including staffing supply and capacity, professional learning and school leadership.
An evaluation of the first two years of the Fund showed that there was an increased awareness, understanding and shared commitment to address the impact of poverty on attainment across local authorities and schools. Additional funding of £8.2 million in 2018-19 will support a new fund specifically for care-experienced children and young people, to be directed by local authorities. This funding will provide targeted initiatives, activities and support that will help improve educational outcomes and attainment for this group of disadvantaged young people.
Action 34 – Do More to Address Bullying In Schools – Including Homophobic, Biphobic and Transphobic (HBT) Bullying
In November 2017, the Scottish Government published updated anti-bullying guidance, Respect for All: The National Approach to Anti-bullying for Scotland's Children and Young People. This guidance is for everyone working with children and young people and provides a holistic approach to anti-bullying. The approach forms part of our wider attempts to improve the health and wellbeing of our children and young people.
Following the publication of 'Respect for All', a working group was established to develop a consistent and uniform approach to recording and monitoring incidents of bullying in schools. An Operational Support Group is now supporting local authorities to implement the new process on a phased approach. This will be fully implemented by August 2019.
We continue to fund respectme to work with local authorities and other organisations working with children and young people to build confidence and capacity to address bullying effectively. respectme is supporting the roll out of the guidance 'Respect for All' to all those who work with children and young people. We have also funded the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) to produce guidance in line with 'Respect for All', for schools to address bullying based on race. This will be published later this year.
The Scottish Government is committed to working with the Time for Inclusive Education campaign to deal with LGBTI bullying, discrimination and prejudice in schools through the LGBTI Inclusive Education Working Group. The Working Group has considered initial teacher training as part of their Strategic Work Plan to give teachers confidence, knowledge and skills to deliver inclusive LGBTI education and support LGBTI learners. Recommendations from the Working Group were accepted by Scottish Ministers in November 2018 and work has commenced to begin the implementation. In November 2017, LGBT Youth Scotland published Addressing Inclusion: Effectively Challenging Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia and delivered practice seminars which complements Respect for All. Additional funding has been provided to LGBT Youth Scotland to deliver more training to teachers in 2018-19.
The Scottish Government will update the Conduct of Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood Education in Schools in 2019.
Action 35 – Tackle Poverty Directly for Some of Our Most Vulnerable Children by Delivering Parity of Child Allowances Between Kinship and Foster Carers
The Scottish Government provided additional funding of £10.1 million a year to enable local authorities to pay kinship care allowance at the same rate as paid to foster carers within their area.
The National Review of Care Allowances (Foster, Kinship and Adoption) began in autumn 2017. The Review Group supporting this work first met on 20 November 2017 and then regularly throughout 2018. The aim of the Review Group was to consider the current landscape of foster, kinship and adoption allowances, including the practical and financial support available to families and those who support them, and to recommend ways in which it could be improved. The Review Group's report and recommendations, published on 14 September 2018, suggests changes to give carers of children in foster, kinship and adoption care smoother access to information and more consistent financial support. We are working in partnership with COSLA and other stakeholders on a response to this report.
Email: Daniel Paterson