This is the fourth and final annual report due under 'Every Child, Every Chance', the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan for the period 2018-22. It covers the period of moving from COVID-19 response into COVID-19 recovery, with the vast majority of restrictions lifted and implementation of planned activity able to restart or regain momentum that had been lost during the height of the pandemic. It reflects progress delivered to 31 March 2022, including the emerging cost of living crisis and actions to support families.
Over the course of 2021-22 we estimate that almost £2.6 billion was invested in support targeted at low income households, of which more than £1.1 billion benefitted children. This includes investment in a range of additional financial support for families in 2021-22 to support recovery from the pandemic and to assist with the rising cost of living.
Through Low Income Pandemic Payments and Scottish Child Payment Bridging Payments we put over £148 million into the pockets of Scottish households. We also delivered a £41 million Winter Support Fund, building on learning from our COVID-19 response, to tackle the increased cost of living over the winter period. This includes providing £25 million of flexible funding to councils to tackle financial insecurity in their local areas, £10 million to establish a new Fuel Insecurity Fund and £6 million to third sector partners to deliver targeted support to low income families with children. We announced a further £290 million package of measures to tackle the cost of living crisis in February 2022 in order to provide continued support in the year ahead.
In March 2022 we published our second Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, 'Best Start, Bright Futures', which sets out action to be taken across 2022-26 to drive forward progress toward the ambitious child poverty targets set and to improve the wellbeing and outcomes of children and families across Scotland. This Plan sets out wide ranging action building upon the steps taken over the life of 'Every Child, Every Chance'. This includes further increasing the value of the Scottish Child Payment to £25 per child per week by the end of 2022, delivering a further 110,000 affordable homes by 2032 with 70% for social rent and building upon devolved employability services to deliver a new employability offer for parents.
We will publish the first annual progress report against delivery of 'Best Start, Bright Futures' by the end of June 2023.
This report focuses on delivery of the actions outlined in 'Every Child, Every Chance', accompanied by a revised evaluation strategy and improved measurement framework.
The first section of the report focuses on the key steps we have taken together with partners across the life of 'Every Child, Every Chance' – from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2022. This includes a summary of key actions aligned to the three drivers of poverty reduction identified in the Plan and what has been delivered has a result of these actions.
A series of timelines are also included, capturing key milestones in respective years since 2018, helping to demonstrate the momentum building behind our national mission to tackle child poverty. Whilst the timelines do not capture external factors, including the world-wide disruption caused by COVID-19, key actions taken in response are set out. This includes the launch of the Communities Funding Package.
The actions taken over this time have further strengthened the unique support provided to families in Scotland and provided invaluable learning to inform our overall approach to tackling and reducing child poverty in Scotland. It is these foundations from which we will deliver the wide ranging actions set out in 'Best Start, Bright Futures'.
Section two provides an update on the implementation of actions set out within 'Every Child, Every Chance' and details of the impacts for actions directly related to the three drivers of child poverty reduction.
As with other annual reports in this series, updates are set out under headings A-E, focusing on: increasing income from employment and earnings; costs of living; social security; helping families in other ways; and partnership working.
Unlike other annual reports, this progress report does not set out additional actions that will be taken in the year ahead given this is the final report for 'Every Child, Every Chance'. Future action is set out within 'Best Start, Bright Futures'.
In section three we set out the latest information in relation to progress made toward the ambitious targets set through the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017. This includes data in relation to the drivers of poverty and progress for each of the six priority family types identified.
Due to the impact of COVID-19 on the face to face collection of survey data, it has not been possible to update three of the four target measures. It is anticipated that data covering the period 2021-22 will be published by the end of March 2023. More recent data is reflected for the Persistent Poverty target, whilst this shows a 5% point reduction from previous levels further data will be required to determine how much of this reduction is sustained.
This section also reflects on progress made in relation to each of the three drivers of poverty reduction. It includes a further section with updated child poverty data amongst the priority family groups most at risk of poverty.
The final section of this report provides a series of tables summarising action, investment and how we have met the requirements of the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017.
This shows that all 68 actions committed within the Plan, and those subsequently added within annual progress reports, are either being delivered or have been completed. We have also invested over £50 million through the Tackling Child Poverty Fund, supporting a range of activity including the Parental Employability Support Fund, Access to Childcare Fund and The Innovation Fund, as part of the wider Social Innovation Partnership.
As in previous years we have provided best estimates of spend targeted toward low income households and children in 2021-22. Alongside this we have provided estimates of spend for 2018-22 inclusive, based on estimates published in previous years.
The final summary, in addition to outlining how we have met the requirements of the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017, details responses to the comments and recommendations of the Poverty and Inequality Commission.
Alongside this report, we have published additional information in Annex A – which is summarised in section three of this report.
Annex A provides an update for each of the 23 measures included as part of our Child Poverty Measurement Framework, including trend data for the time period for which comparable data is available.
In addition, we will publish two further annexes in the summer detailing an evidence review focused on mothers aged under 25 and families with a child under the age of 1. This review will further strengthen our knowledge and understanding of the challenges and barriers faced by each of the six priority family types identified – complementing the three focus reports published in previous years   and the summary of evidence published in October 2021.
Informed through engagement with families, this annex will also present, where possible, breakdowns of the Child Poverty Measurement Framework by family type.
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