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 social security

Key findings

  • Local areas were seen to be taking a variety of approaches to improving access to and take up of Social Security and in-kind benefits.
  • Benefits in-kind and social security payments each had an important role in child poverty reduction efforts, though some reports focused on the latter.
  • The influence of the pandemic was still felt significantly over 2021/22, with emergency pandemic payments being used frequently across all local areas.
  • Some local authorities also aimed to top up existing national level social security payments with their own locally-developed services.
  • Both universal and targeted support were important, the latter involved both the six priority families and local areas' own target populations, which were identified according to local circumstances and need.


Social security and in-kind benefits are a widespread mechanism through which local authorities and health boards aim to tackle child poverty, and this is evident throughout year four LCPARs. This chapter explores the various key local actions taken over the year 2021/22 relating to increasing income from social security.

Prevalence of Social Security or Benefits in-kind

Local areas offered a mix of social security payments and benefits in-kind. For example, Midlothian is working towards a holistic 'apply once' service that assesses applicants for all available services from the council. This would include clothing grants, free school meals, council tax reduction and so on. Glasgow's 'Geezabreak' programme distributed food parcels, food vouchers, fuel vouchers and free school clothes to families, while the council's Preventative Income Maximisation Project focused wholly on financial gains for families who were previously reliant on furlough.

Some reports omit any mention of benefits in kind, preferring to focus on social security alone. North Lanarkshire's LCPAR, for example, is detailed on the payments that have been made available to citizens via its Financial Inclusion service, but these are limited to local and national benefits.

Pandemic and Emergency Payments

The influence of the COVID-19 pandemic is clear in the reports reviewed. To differing degrees, all LCPARs mention the influence of the pandemic on their policies and child poverty levels. Some reports provided detail on the measures taken to respond to the pandemic through emergency payments.

Dundee reported that during the period from March 2020 to March 2022, they received a record-breaking 11,626 crisis grant applications. They report that 65% of these were approved and funded by the Scottish Government's Scottish Welfare Fund. Referencing the Best Start, Bright Futures delivery plan's recommendations for a holistic approach to services, Dundee reported that these grants were awarded alongside other benefits and services including the provision of household goods and financial advice. A similar system was instituted in North Ayrshire matching Scottish Welfare Fund grants with connections to wider services. Glasgow's "Glasgow Helps" service, a key feature of its pandemic response, also connected the payment of grants and benefits with its wider array of financial and wider support services available.

East Renfrewshire reported that in the year 2021/22, there was a strong focus on developing new pandemic-related benefits. These came in the form of self-isolation support grants and low-income pandemic payments as well as bridging payments. For example, as well as the Scottish Government Family Bridging payments East Renfrewshire provided additional 'top-up' payments to families using Humanitarian Support funding.

Enhancement of Social Security Payments at Local level

Most local areas focused their efforts on ensuring that people who are eligible for benefits were reached and put into contact with the help they needed.

Beyond that, some local authorities offered specialised payments aimed at particular groups in need within their area. For example, Glasgow's Family Support Fund is a locally-offered payment available to women who have experienced domestic abuse and are living in temporary accommodation. This payment recognises specific structural barriers that women face when trying to access financial support while living in temporary accommodation. In addition to this, Glasgow also offered a service named "families outside", aimed at supporting the families of imprisoned people with grants, access to benefits checks, and payments toward costs like fuel.

Maximising Uptake

In regards to other, non-pandemic related benefits, payments or grants the theme of maximizing uptake has recurred across several LCPARs. Local authorities and health boards across Scotland are finding ways to connect with those who may qualify for certain benefits but who are not currently receiving them. This has often involved collaborations between council departments and third-sector partners and a move towards "holistic" approaches to linking users with available services.

Glasgow used its Pathfinder model to connect service users to available social security and in-kind benefits support and improve uptake, specifically mentioning Housing Benefit and Council Tax reductions. Falkirk also employed a somewhat holistic approach, instructing their housing teams to work alongside their welfare unit to increase awareness and uptake of available benefits. So too did North Lanarkshire, making its Financial Inclusion team and the Citizens' Advice Bureau work together to maximise the uptake of benefits.

Maximising uptake, then, was a common way local authorities acted on the driver of income from social security and benefits in kind. This was often facilitated by a holistic or no-wrong-door, approach to services which aim to make contact with any support service a gateway to learning and applying to other services for which users may be eligible.

Eligibility and Targeting

Reports often included efforts to target support to families identified through local evidence and knowledge.

Glasgow used social security and benefit uptake data to improve their evidence base on child poverty within the city and intend to use this to identify other ways of improving social security and benefits reach in the future.

The six priority family groups were often used by local areas as a targeting tool for social security and benefits in kind. The Preventative Income Maximisation Project offered by Glasgow City Council notes that it was targeted especially at the six priority families. This was also seen in East Renfrewshire's plan to develop a GP pathway to benefits and social security, which explicitly stated it targeted all six priority groups.

However, it was also common for local areas, even those that had also used the priority groups for targeting, to create their own target populations for their services. East Renfrewshire, for example, had developed a temporary Income Maximisation Officer that would work with clients for a year. This service was specifically developed for those recently made redundant, those on the furlough scheme and those on low wages. Dundee targeted newly-released prisoners with a special advice service in order to maximise their uptake of relevant benefits, grants and other services.


In 2021/22, the lingering effects of the pandemic were still negatively affecting families and councils' fight against child poverty. As a result, emergency benefit payments were still a significant component of local responses to child poverty in the year four LCPARs. Most local authorities demonstrated using both, benefits in-kind and social security payments, though some reported only on the latter. Some went further and enhanced these services with their own targeted payments. Some of these services were made available to users via holistic service delivery, using certain services as a point of contact built on to link users with a broader range of interventions.


Email: socialresearch@gov.scot

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