Resource Spending Review: Equality and Fairer Scotland Statement

This report considers some of the key opportunities and challenges that the Scottish Government faces over this parliamentary term; what these mean for inequality, fairness and human rights; and how the spending review and other initiatives respond.

Opportunity/Challenge 5: Deliver greater progress towards meeting statutory child poverty targets

What does the evidence tell us?

  • Poverty affects a wide range of families with a variety of protected characteristics. Almost 90% of all children in poverty in Scotland live within the six priority family types: lone parent households, minority ethnic households, households with a disabled member, households with a child under one, households with a young mother (<25), and larger households (3+ children).[65]
  • Families with experience of multiple disadvantage are often among those deepest in poverty and experience most barriers and challenges to get out of poverty. Most of these families are also likely to fall into at least one of our priority groups, and often belong to more than one priority group. For example, among children in relative poverty: 40% of children in lone parent households also have a disabled person at home; over half (54%) of children in a household with a younger mother are also in a lone parent household; half (50%) of children in a household with three or more children are also in a household in which someone is disabled.
  • A balanced approach to tackling poverty is needed, with action required across the three drivers of poverty reduction (income from employment, costs of living, income from social security and benefits in kind) To achieve this, a combination of various policies is needed that support families most in need, recognising that there is no single way to experience poverty, but a wide range of unique experiences.[66]
  • Although paid work can be an effective way out of poverty, having paid work is not always enough to lift families out of poverty. The majority (67%) of children in poverty in Scotland already live in working households. In-work poverty is more common in minority ethnic households (76% of those in poverty are in paid work), households with three or more children (67%), or households with a baby (65%).
  • Evidence suggests that there are two main drivers of in-work poverty. The first driver, the flexibility and quality of jobs; the second, the current low pay in many sectors[67]
  • There is a significant degree of intersectional impact for these groups, and for example, among children in relative poverty.[68]
  • Major events like EU Exit, COVID-19, and the current cost of living crisis have had significant impacts on the lives and experiences of children and families across Scotland. For example, those who were already most disadvantaged including lower income households, minority ethnic communities, and disabled people have tended to suffer disproportionately because of COVID-19.
  • Child poverty and gender are inextricably linked. Women earn less than men and are more likely to be in insecure, low-paid work, and are overrepresented in sectors that have historically low pay, low progresss, and are often undervalued.[69]

What are we doing to address this?

Our statutory targets require that, on an after housing costs (AHC) basis:

  • Fewer than 18% of children live in relative poverty in 2023-24, reducing to fewer than 10% by 2030.
  • Fewer than 14% of children live in in absolute poverty in 2023-24, reducing to fewer than 5% by 2030.
  • Fewer than 8% of children live in combined low income and material deprivation in 2023-24, reducing to fewer than 5% by 2030.
  • Fewer than 8% of children live in persistent poverty in 2023-24, reducing to fewer than 5% by 2030.

Tackling child poverty is one of the core priorities in the RSR. As the spending review sets out, the Best Start, Bright Futures: Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2022-2026outlines wide ranging action to tackle child poverty and drive progress toward the ambitious targets set for 2030.

Support is balanced across the three drivers of poverty reduction: enhancing the immediate support families need through social security; enabling them to move out of poverty through employment; and reducing household costs. These steps are complemented by a focus on building the services that will improve family wellbeing and outcomes and supporting children and young people to reach their full potential.

Specific actions supported by the RSR include:

  • ß More than doubling the value of the Scottish Child Payment (SCP) to £25 per week per child and rolling out the SCP in full to children under 16, by the end of 2022.
  • ß Increasing the value of eight Scottish social security benefits by 6%, including Best Start Grants and Carer's Allowance Supplement, to keep pace with rising costs.
  • ß Investment of up to £10 million each year to mitigate the Benefit Cap as fully as we can within the scope of devolved powers, with 97% of households impacted having dependent children.
  • Enhancing access to advice and support, in places where families already go, investing up to £10 million to increase access to holistic advice services in the current parliamentary term, including expanding access to advice in health and education settings.
  • Developing and implementing an enhanced employability offer for parents that provides holistic, person-centred support, financed by up to £81 million in 2022-23.

The Equality Impact Assessment[70] and Fairer Scotland Duty Impact Assessment[71] accompanying Best Start, Bright Futures, indicates that the potential impact of policy aimed at delivering greater progress towards meeting statutory child poverty targets is expected to be largely positive across protected characteristics (there is stronger evidence for sex, disability and race/ethnicity, with no evidence of negative impact for other characteristics) and positive for those experiencing socio-economic disadvantage.[72],[73]



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