Tackling child poverty: first year progress report (2018 to 2019)

The first annual progress report for 'Every child, every chance: tackling child poverty delivery plan 2018-2022'.

1. How we help Children and Families in Scotland

The Scottish Government is taking a wide range of action to help children and young people reach their full potential.

This support starts before a child is even born – with targeted help for women during pregnancy. We help children to flourish in their early years and to achieve the best outcomes in education. Once they leave formal education and training, we help young people find good-quality jobs and to move into a warm and affordable first home.

At each step of the way, help and support is available – particularly if there are additional challenges, like poverty, care-experience or disability.

By supporting children to achieve their best, we will improve outcomes and reduce inequality. Crucially, we will also reduce child poverty levels in the long term – sustaining the reductions achieved through the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan.

At each stage of life we are taking a range of actions, to support children and families and to make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up.

Giving children the best start in life

  • Health Visitor
  • Family Nurse
  • Baby Box
  • Neonatal expenses fund
  • Best Start Grant
  • Expanded Early Learning and Childcare

Supporting children to learn and grow

  • Universal free school meals to P1-P3
  • School Clothing Grant
  • Attainment Scotland Fund including Pupil Equity Funding
  • Education Maintenance Allowance
  • Foundation level apprenticeships

Helping build skills and prepare for work

  • Funded University Tuition
  • Apprenticeships
  • Graduate Apprenticeships
  • Fair Start Scotland
  • Intensive employment support for parents

Promoting fairer working lives

  • Real Living Wage
  • Encouraging flexible work
  • Flexible Workforce Development Fund
  • Job Grant for eligible young people
  • Workplace Equality Fund

Providing access to warm and affordable homes

  • 50,000 affordable homes
  • Home Energy Scotland – access to Warmer Homes Scotland programme
  • Private Sector Tenancy
  • Council Tax Reduction Scheme

We’re also supporting families on their journey through:

  • Social Security Scotland
  • Scottish Welfare Fund
  • Free Prescriptions
  • Access to sanitary products
  • Financial Health Check
  • National Transport Strategy

We are ensuring the best start to life...


We actively support pregnant women to have a healthy pregnancy and get off to a great start with their new child.

We issue free vitamins to all pregnant women – looking after the child’s and mother’s health. Pregnant women can also access funded dental treatment.

From August, mothers on low incomes will be able to access Best Start Foods payments throughout their pregnancy, worth £4.25 per week. This entitlement will be pre-loaded on to a payment card every four weeks and can be used to purchase a range of healthy foods.

From 24 weeks pregnant, parents and carers on certain benefits and tax credits can apply for the Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment. This awards £600 on the birth of a first child and £300 on the birth of any subsequent children – helping to pay for essentials such as a new pram or cot.

To support younger mothers with their first child, our Family Nurse Partnership programme provides much needed support from early pregnancy until the child is two. Backed by investment of around £16 million in 2019-20, family nurses provide tailored support to help children get the best start.

We are also helping to embed information and referral pathways between the NHS early years workforce and money/welfare advice services through key investment of £500,000 over the first two years of the Plan.

0 – 18 Months

The first years of a child’s life are some of the most important, and these early experiences help shape how they develop.

We are investing £30 million over this Parliamentary term to ensure all parents in Scotland can get a free Baby Box – packed full of essential items worth around £160. Families on a low income can also make an application for their Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment up to six months after their child is born.

The support offered from Best Start Foods is enhanced for the first year of a child’s life, increasing to £8.50 a week for low income families, and continues until the child is three at £4.25 a week. We are also giving extra support to mums to help them continue breastfeeding for longer through investment of more than £2 million. This funding is enabling NHS Boards and third sector organisations to improve the quality of breastfeeding support and breastfeeding experiences of mothers.

For babies who are poorly and require additional time in hospital, our £1.5 million neonatal expenses fund ensures parents can spend the time needed to support their baby while they are getting better.

All families have access to the Universal Health Visiting Pathway, which consists of 11 home visits, eight of which are in the first year of life. We’re investing £40 million over four years to scale up the workforce in addition to annual investment of £20 million each year. This allows health visitors to build relationships with children and their parents and act as a gateway to other services.

Younger mothers continue to benefit from the Family Nurse Partnership, receiving help and advice to improve positive parenting and care-giving, and increase economic self-sufficiency.

2 – 5

To improve outcomes for all children, especially those experiencing the most disadvantage, we are investing in high quality, flexible funded early learning and childcare (ELC) that is accessible and affordable for families.

Quality ELC will help to close the attainment gap and we’re almost doubling our funded entitlement to 1,140 hours by August 2020 – backed by annual revenue investment of nearly £1 billion by 2021-22. This will be available for all three and four year olds and eligible two year olds, saving parents around £4,500 each year. It can also help parents to return to the workforce or training.

From 2020 onwards, children in childcare for two or more hours a day will benefit from free milk and a healthy snack. We’ll also be extending free meals to all children attending a funded ELC session from August 2020.

Between the ages two and three and a half, parents and carers on certain benefits and tax credits can get a one-off Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment of £250 per child to support child development.

Parents will receive two more visits from their health visitor. This includes two Child Health Reviews at 27-30 months and four-five years. Again, this offers an opportunity to provide much needed support and for them to be directed to other available services.

Children will continue to benefit from the Bookbug book gifting programme, which gives every child four free packs of books between birth and primary one.

Children will continue to benefit from our Childsmile programme, providing universal and targeted support in areas of disadvantage to nursery and primary school children. This includes tooth brushing, fluoride varnish application and free dental packs, containing a toothbrush and toothpaste.

We also want Scotland to be a nation which values play as a life-enhancing daily experience for all our children and young people; in their homes, nurseries, schools and communities we encourage positive support for play.

We are supporting children achieve their best at school...

Tackling The Cost Of The School Day

To help children get the best from their education and reduce the cost of the school day for parents we’ve put in place a range of support to help make school more affordable.

Around the time a child normally starts school, parents and carers on low incomes can access the Best Start Grant School Age Payment, worth £250. This helps to meet essential costs at this key transition stage. The complete package of support through Best Start Grant is worth up to £1,900 for a two child family and is backed by investment of around £21 million in 2019‑20.

We are investing £6 million each year so that every eligible child can benefit from a national minimum School Clothing Grant of £100; increased from a previous minimum of £40 in some areas – helping them to get the right clothes and sports kit to enable full participation in school life.

We offer Free School Meals to all children in P1-P3 backed by investment of £54 million in 2018-19- saving families around £400 each year. We continue to provide targeted support for children whose parents and carers are in receipt of certain qualifying benefits right through their school years. We also support families during the school holidays by providing meals at clubs children attend.

Narrowing The Poverty-Related Attainment Gap

The Scottish Attainment Challenge is about achieving equity in education and seeks to ensure every child has the same opportunity to succeed, with a particular focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap.

The Challenge focuses on improvement activity in literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing and complements the broader range of initiatives and programmes in place to ensure children achieve their full potential.

We are investing in a £750 million Attainment Scotland Fund during the course of this parliament to support the Scottish Attainment Challenge. This fund comprises of a number of separate funding streams including the annual £120 million of Pupil Equity Funding which, since 2017-18, is being allocated directly to 96% of schools to be used on activities and interventions that are targeted at closing the poverty related attainment gap.

Other streams include funding to nine Challenge authorities and 73 schools with the highest levels of children affected by poverty and to support for the attainment of care experienced children and young people. The Scottish Attainment Challenge also supports the delivery of a number of national programmes such as the Cost of the School Day programme and new entitlements through the Young Scot pilot. Beyond our work on the Scottish Attainment Challenge we provide access to free sanitary products in education settings.

We also provide an Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), to eligible young people from low income families participating in a course of non-advanced learning

such as school, non-advanced college courses or Activity Agreements. Investing £25 million in 2019-20, EMA provides a financial incentive of £30 per week, and supports young people aged 16-19 to make learning choices based not on their financial circumstances but on their ability and aspirations.

We Provide A Range Of Support So Individuals Can Build Their Skills And Access High Quality Jobs.

Leaving school and moving into work or further education can be difficult for any young person, but in Scotland we’ve put in a range of support to help everyone reach their full potential.

Foundation Apprenticeships are designed to help young people in S5 and S6 gain valuable, real work experience and access work-based learning as part of their senior phase experience. They can provide young people with a head start on a career by providing industry-recognised qualifications and experience employers are looking for.

We have expanded the scheme since it started in 2016 and will make up to 5,000 Foundation Apprenticeships available in Scotland’s schools by 2019.

Apprenticeships are a significant part of our work to address youth employment and develop a diverse and inclusive workforce in Scotland. Graduate Level Apprenticeships are also available to enable people to study for degree-level courses while in employment. Just under 900 places were made available in 2018, following a pilot scheme in 2016. This programme aims to meet the needs of employers looking for high levels of academic and industry accreditation with experience in the workplace.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) support individuals to build their career management, work-based and employability skills, throughout their career journey, from school, into further learning opportunities and employment. With more than 900 careers staff, SDS offer free, impartial career information, advice and guidance in schools, SDS careers centres, the SDS Customer Contact Centre and community venues across Scotland. This support is available to individuals of all ages across Scotland empowering them to make informed decisions and realise their potential at any stage in their career.

In Scotland we believe that every child should have an equal chance to receive a quality education – that is why we continue to fully fund university tuition for every eligible individual. The number of students from the 20% most deprived areas entering higher education is now at a record high.

We provide generous bursaries and access to student loans to help low income families to access this educational opportunity and become qualified for a rewarding career.

An additional bursary, and help with the costs of accommodation during summer, is given to care-experienced young people, ensuring that this group has equal access to the opportunities associated with higher education.

We’re Helping Parents And Young People Access Employment And Capitalise On Their Skills.

Scotland is developing a strong package of support to help parents enter and progress into work – without the fear of benefit sanctions. We’re also ensuring that young people leaving school go on to positive destinations, getting a great start to their working life.

Our devolved employability programme, Fair Start Scotland, is on track to support over 38,000 people move towards and into employment – backed by up to £96 million of investment by 2023.

We are complementing this with intensive employment support for parents, with additional help for disabled parents, investing up to £18 million during the lifetime of the Plan.

All of these support programmes are built on the belief that people should be able to access a service which treats them with dignity and respect.

A further suite of employability support is available locally and includes Community Jobs Scotland, Inspiring Scotland, Discovering Your Potential and the Employability Fund. This is in addition to the support funded through the new employability funding stream established by No One Left Behind. This approach seeks to ensure the design and delivery of employability support is centred around the needs of people and can flex when needs change. And by aligning funding approaches we will seek to reduce duplication of support and make the system easier for people to navigate.

To support young people on lower incomes (16-24, or 25 for care leavers) into work after an extended period of unemployment, we’re putting in place a new Job Grant – backed by investment of around £1.2 million each year. This grant will provide support of £400 to young parents who have been out of work for more than 6 months, helping them to meet costs until their first wage arrives.

Beyond this we are taking a wide range of action to make workplaces fairer and to maximise the impact employment can have on family incomes. This is covered in more detail in section 3.

And Helping Them Access Warm And Affordable Homes…

Ensuring everyone has access to an affordable and warm home that meets their needs is central to this Government’s vision for a fairer and more prosperous Scotland.

Over this Parliamentary term, we are delivering at least 50,000 affordable homes, including 35,000 homes for social rent. This ambitious target is backed by more than £3.3 billion – the single biggest investment in, and delivery of, affordable housing since devolution. We are proud of our record delivery of over 86,000 affordable homes since 2007.

We are also proud of the reforms we have made across all tenures, including introducing the new Private Sector Tenancy, providing increased support and protection to tenants, and ending the right to buy.

We’re providing over £351 million in 2019-20 to fund the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, saving families an average of £701 per year.

And by the end of 2021, we will have allocated over £1 billion since 2009 through energy efficiency programmes to make homes warmer and cheaper to heat.

Warmer Homes Scotland is installing measures to people’s homes to make them warmer and easier to heat. Typically, households receive over £4,000 worth of measures and make average fuel bill savings of £300 per year.

We are investing over £64 million in 2019‑20 in Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs). This investment is mitigating the bedroom tax in full, and helping families to cope with the freeze on Local Housing Allowance rates.

We Provide Support To Children And Families Throughout Their Journey…

In Scotland we are helping families with children to cope with whatever challenges they face. We are the first country in the world to provide access to free sanitary products in all schools, colleges and universities. We have strong universal support too, including free prescriptions, and are working hard to ensure transport plays an effective role in helping families access opportunities.

We have focused here on our efforts to maximise family incomes, support those managing a new or existing disability, and help support care-experienced young people.

Maximising Incomes, Mitigating Austerity And Making Lives Easier

In Scotland we are investing over £125 million each year to mitigate the worst impacts of UK Government welfare reforms and support those on low incomes.

This includes investment of £38 million to support individuals through the Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF). SWF provides much needed Crisis Grants to families, and also Community Care Grants. This helps families cope with the unexpected and can assist in the preparation to settle into new tenancies.

Our new Financial Health Check, backed by £3.3 million in 2018-20, provides advice for families on low incomes to ensure they claim all the benefits and grants they are entitled to and maximise their incomes. It also helps them to get the best value for good and services - tackling the poverty premium.

Alongside this, we are supporting the growth of the Affordable Credit Sector ensuring that even those on low incomes have access to mid-cost credit and wider financial inclusion advice to support them in dealing with financial pressures.

Managing A New Or Existing Disability

Living with a disability can create a number of challenges for individuals and families. These could include meeting additional day to day living costs, such as increased transport expenses. Additionally earnings potential may be reduced if individuals struggle to enter and progress in work or have to provide care to a family member.

In Scotland, we regard social security as a human right. We will begin delivering disability assistance for children and young people in Summer 2020.

Young people (15-21) with a disability can access the Independent Living Fund Transitions Fund. This offers a young person up to £7,500 to explore, plan and achieve outcomes or goals that they have identified as important in their life.

Our National Entitlement Card offers all disabled people free bus travel, saving cardholders an average of £260 each year, backed by record investment of over £200 million in 2018-19.

We have increased the value of Carer’s Allowance, through the Carer’s Allowance Supplement which put an extra £442 a year into 83,000 carers’ pockets in 2018-19 – higher than Jobseeker’s Allowance for first time. This is an investment in carers of £300 million a year. We have also committed to providing additional financial assistance to carers of more than one disabled child by early 2021. To support eligible young carers, aged 16-18, we are also introducing the new Young Carer Grant, which will be delivered by autumn 2019.

We have also published our “A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: employment action plan” setting out action to meet our ambition to at least halve the disability employment gap in Scotland.

Supporting Care-Experienced Young People

Almost 15,000 young people in Scotland are currently in the care of a local authority. We know that these young people are at risk of achieving poorer rates of attainment, are less likely to be in positive destinations post-school and are at increased risk of becoming homeless. However, we are taking strong action to improve the care experience and outcomes for our looked after children and young people.

As proud and responsible corporate parents we are proactive in considering how to address the challenge of embedding real culture change across the public sector so that no unnecessary disadvantages are experienced by our looked after children and care leavers.

A summary of activity to date is set out in a Report by Scottish Ministers, laid before the Scottish Parliament in June 2018. This Report, which includes honest feedback from care experienced children and young people, demonstrates how corporate parents have worked hard to adopt better ways of delivering their support or services. At Government level we also continue to fund, and encourage all corporate parents to use, the comprehensive training and practical support available on websites and directly from Who Cares? Scotland and the Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection (CELCIS).

We recognise and value the important role played by kinship carers in providing stable and nurturing homes for young people. In September 2015, we announced funding of £10.1 million per annum to local authorities to raise kinship care allowances to the same level foster families receive in their area. The recommendations of the National Review of Care Allowances focused on greater consistency and transparency of kinship and foster allowances, as well as the wider support available and we are working in partnership with COSLA on a joint response.

To improve outcomes for this group we invested £33 million in 2018-19 specifically to support the educational needs of care experienced children and young people. We’ve ensured that young care experienced students have access to full bursaries for college or university. We have also now exempted care-experienced young people from Council Tax up to the age of 26; supporting them through the important transition into their first home.

Care-experienced young people are a key priority group for the First Minister and she has commissioned an independent review of care which is currently underway. The Review is root and branch, looking at the underpinning legislation, practices, culture and ethos of the system. Its aim is to make Scotland’s care system the best in the world. The Review is being driven and shaped by care experienced children and young people themselves. Securing safe, stable, loving and permanent homes for every looked after child at the earliest opportunity is key to children succeeding. The Review underpins our work to close the outcomes gap that exists between looked after children and their peers.


Email: sjsu@gov.scot

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