Local child poverty action reports: year 4 review - 2021 to 2022

This research publication summarises key trends and actions undertaken by local areas to reduce child poverty over the period April 2021 to March 2022 so that key learnings can be shared and lessons learned.

Income from employment

Key findings

  • LCPARs have taken income from employment seriously as a driver of poverty. A range of action is being taken on employability and low pay.
  • The Parental Employment Support Fund has been utilised widely, supporting parents to increase their income through work whilst balancing childcare and other commitments.
  • Young people were targeted directly, too, with a focus across local authorities on transitions of school leavers into growth sectors of the economy.
  • Various local authorities sought to maximise the number of Living Wage employers within their areas in order to increase the number of well-paying jobs.


Insufficient income from employment is a significant driver of child poverty. Supporting parents to enter good, well-paid jobs is key to tackling child poverty. Parental access to employment is influenced not only by labour market and employability policies, but also job flexibility and the availability of childcare and transport opportunities which meet the needs of parents. Year four LCPARs recognise the importance of income from employment in shaping poverty outcomes for families and include significant steps to address this driver. This chapter discusses key local actions on employability taken over the year 2021/22.

Retraining and barriers to work

Common approaches to improving income from employment taken by local authorities included focusing on in-work poverty, barriers to work and low wages. This was often achieved by focusing on improving technical, vocational and educational attainment to reduce child poverty. Actions often target the parents of children in poverty, though some are aimed directly at school-age young people, supporting the next generation. The idea being that access to education and training will allow for better career prospects for these young people in the future, creating paths to higher wages and salaries.

Several of the local areas specifically mentioned offering access to the Scottish Government-funded Parental Employment Support Fund (PESF) in their reports. This programme is intended to target barriers to work. A part of the programme involves funding placements in workplaces and accredited courses, combined with emotional and financial support and advice. It operates on a flexibly, allowing parents to fit its provisions around childcare and other needs. Glasgow notes that its Financial Inclusion Support Officer programme is often used to refer people to this service as part of its wider child poverty Pathfinder model. The PESF was also utilised by West Dunbartonshire as part of its 5-stage "employability pipeline", beginning with unemployment and progressing towards sustained employment. This was matched with a similar "learning intensive" service for young people who were not in education, employment or training. The service provides educational as well as emotional and mental health support, moving users onto wider employment support and eventually employment.

Dumfries and Galloway offered a case study detailing how it used its access to the PESF to support an unemployed mother of three children. After meeting with workers from the No One Left Behind team, she chose a training course offered by Dumfries and Galloway college. She was awarded funding, was able to pass her course and also completed 100 hours of work placement in a local primary school. She was in secure work by the time the report was finished, and reported a greater sense of self-confidence having met her goals. The inclusion, alongside the improvement in material circumstances, of the emotional and personal impacts associated with the support shows a sensitivity to the needs and wants of those in poverty.

School Leavers

South Lanarkshire opted to collaborate with Skills Development Scotland, South Lanarkshire College and New College Lanarkshire to create the Gradu8 scheme. Aimed at school leavers in the most deprived SIMD areas, Gradu8 sought to find placements in "growth sectors" of the economy for its users. The report notes their target-beating employment in the construction sector, where 229 users were starting new positions compared to 138 in the previous year. They also made significant use of the Modern Apprenticeship programme and further invested in school leavers' who are care experienced leading to an above-average rate of employment for that target demographic.

East Dunbartonshire noted that it was the local authority with the lowest percentage of children in families experiencing relative or absolute poverty in Scotland, at a rate of 8% and 7% respectively. Nonetheless, their year four LCPAR contains a significant range of actions aimed at further lowering those numbers. This included funding for the Young Person's Guarantee and supporting post-school transitions.

Living Wage

North Ayrshire has based their efforts in increasing income from work around "Wealth Building Anchor Institutions". These are local employers who have agreed to become part of North Ayrshire's "Fair Employment Workstreams", set up to help increase the proportion of employers paying the Real Living Wage. This sits alongside the "Kickstart" programme which aims to get young people into work, along with several other employability schemes.

East Dunbartonshire have also promoted the paying of the Living Wage in the year 2021/22, seeing the number of employers offering the rate increase slightly over the year and planned to continue this effort over the following year. Their report stated that payment of the Living Wage would be included in council contracts going forward. Similarly, East Renfrewshire's Economic Development Team had been working with Living Wage Scotland and East Renfrewshire Business Gateway in order to increase the number of Living Wage accreditations within the business community. They had enjoyed some success, noting that the number of Living Wage employers had increased from 11 in their year two report to 23 in their year four report.


Although transport policy is most commonly linked to the cost of living in LCPARs, some councils also link transport actions to employment goals. For example, East Ayrshire are investing in better transport links as part of their multi-million pound Ayrshire Growth Deal which aims to attract employers to the area. They also have policies covering transport costs of eligible residents to support movements into employment.

Fife identified the cost and availability of transport as a significant negative driver of child poverty and are researching ways to improve the network across the local authority. Their report noted that even though this work is in its early stages, it will be carried out with the knowledge that those in poverty spend a larger proportion of their income on transport and that lack of reliable transport was keeping some local people from accessing both social security entitlements and better paid work.


Year 4 LCPARs have taken income from employment seriously as a driver of poverty. Employability was a key area of action, including through the Parental Employment Support Fund and work support school leavers into positive destinations. Other usual actions included work to increase the number of employers paying the Living Wage, and improvement transport affordability and/or services to support people's access to work.


Email: socialresearch@gov.scot

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