‘Every Child, Every Chance’ is the first Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan due under the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 and is backed by a range of investments, including the £50 million Tackling Child Poverty Fund. It outlines the concrete action we will take by 2022 to deliver on the ambitious targets set.
Since publishing the Delivery Plan in March 2018, we have made good progress. This first annual progress report outlines the steps taken since the Plan was published, the new actions committed and our priorities for the next reporting year.
We have begun to deliver on many of the key actions that could be progressed immediately. Most importantly, families themselves are already benefitting.
Alongside this, we have worked to progress actions with a longer lead-in time, and taken advantage of opportunities to develop new actions.
Some of our key achievements in the past year have included:
- A new Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby payment was launched in December 2018, with £3.5 million awarded by 28 February 2019. We’re providing a payment of £600 through Best Start Grant on the birth of a first child, and introducing a payment of £300 for second and subsequent children;
- An increase in the minimum level of School Clothing Grants to £100 for each eligible child, benefitting 120,000 children each year and backed by investment of £6 million each year;
- Our new Financial Health Check service launched in November, backed by £3.3 million of funding over two years, with a key aim to help low income families with children and older people with the poverty premium and benefit uptake. In the first six months 3,889 people have accessed the service with recorded financial gains of £2.5 million;
- The first payments of Carer’s Allowance Supplement were made in mid-September 2018, backdated to April. The supplement was worth £442 in 2018-19 – paid in two payments. Future improvements will include an additional payment for carers of more than one disabled child and a Young Carer Grant;
- Fair Start Scotland, our devolved employability programme launched in April 2018 – and over 10,000 people had accessed the service by 29 March 2019; and
- Our new Innovation Fund, in partnership with the Hunter Foundation, with £7.5 million of investment by 2022, has supported eight new projects to reduce child poverty in 2018-19.
Alongside these immediate actions, we have also taken positive steps to develop areas of future support, in particular:
- Making good progress with our early learning and childcare commitments. As a result of local authorities ‘phasing in’ the entitlement, over 11,000 two to five year olds are already benefitting from more than 600 hours of funded ELC;
- Undertaking a thorough assessment of a range of options for the income supplement commitment;
- Working to design our new £12 million programme of intensive parental employment support, with a view to launching in Autumn 2019;
- Publishing our strategy to tackle the disability employment gap – including an additional £6 million investment specifically focused on employment support for disabled parents on low incomes; and
- Setting out detailed action plans to reduce the gender pay gap and promote fair work - reflecting the importance of tackling women’s poverty as we seek to reduce child poverty.
In the next year, we will continue to develop the actions within the Delivery Plan; explore new opportunities with a view to delivery of projects at scale to make the step change required to tackle the problem; and, as child poverty is increasingly seen as a collective responsibility, further develop partnerships within government and with stakeholders, including with parents and children with experience of poverty.
Particular areas of focus in 2019-20 include:
- Working towards the introduction of the Scottish Child Payment for low income families;
- Progressing our commitment to almost doubling publicly funded early learning and childcare by August 2020;
- Developing our programme to support disabled parents into employment, as set out in a ‘Fairer Scotland for Disabled People’ in December 2018;
- Moving to the next stages of our work to deliver a draft strategic framework on After School and Holiday Childcare, with a public consultation in Summer 2019 and working to launch our new Out of School Care Fund by April 2020;
- Expanding the Children’s Neighbourhood programme, backed by a £2 million investment;
- Collaborating with Timewise on a feasibility study for a new Centre for Flexible Work; this Scottish centre would be a UK first, aiming to design, test, embed and scale new approaches to increasing the availability of flexible working – in particular for low income parents; and
- Further developing our commitment to make housing more safe, warm and affordable for families.
This is only the end of the first year of the Plan but we know there is still much to do. We will continue to press forward and work with others to deliver on this shared ambition.
"I feel quite proud that some of our ideas have been listened to."
Member of the Children’s Parliament Age 11
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