Tackling child poverty delivery plan: fourth year progress report 2021 to 2022

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

1. Summary of actions delivered through Every Child, Every Chance

Across the life of 'Every Child, Every Chance' we have taken key steps, together with partners, to directly tackle child poverty and to strengthen the foundations from which we will take the next ambitious steps outlined in Scotland's second Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan – 'Best Start, Bright Futures'.

This includes action across the three drivers of poverty reduction.

To increase incomes from work and earnings we have supported parents to access and progress in employment through devolved employability services, based on the principles of dignity and respect and which are provided without fear of sanctions. We have also taken action to tackle low pay and to advance equality in the workplace including through the delivery of actions set out in key strategies to tackle workplace inequalities, such as A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People – Employment Action Plan; the Gender Pay Gap Action Plan; the application of Fair Work First Criteria to public sector funding; continued support for Living Wage accreditation; and launch of a Living Hours accreditation scheme for Scotland. Our National Strategy for Economic Transformation sets out ambitious action that we will take in the period to 2030 to deliver economic prosperity for all Scotland's people and places.

To reduce household costs we have continued delivery of our Affordable Housing Supply Programme and set out our long term vision for housing in Scotland through Housing to 2040. We have set in statute ambitious targets to significantly reduce levels of fuel poverty in Scotland, and have continued to take strong action to tackle fuel insecurity for families through our Home Energy Scotland service and through Warmer Homes Scotland and Area Based Schemes. We have also published our Fuel Poverty Strategy identifying future action we will take to continue to tackle fuel insecurity. In addition, we have almost doubled fully funded Early Learning and Childcare hours which, alongside saving families money, is helping improve outcomes for children and giving parents more time to access training, employment and learning.

To maximise incomes from social security and benefits in kind, we established our new social security agency and have commenced delivery of 12 Scottish benefits, seven of which are entirely new and unavailable anywhere else in the UK. This includes our Scottish Child Payment, which was delivered within 18 months of being announced, and opened for those responsible for eligible children under the age of 6 in February 2021. We will further increase the Scottish Child Payment to £25 by the end of 2022, when the benefit is expanded to eligible children under the age of 16. Our analysis suggests that Scottish Child Payment could reduce the relative child poverty rate (after housing costs) by an estimated 5 percentage points in 2023-24. This represents lifting 50,000 children out of relative poverty. We have also increased the value of School Clothing Grants and taken a range of steps to support families to access the benefits they are entitled to, including launching the Money Talk Team services and through the wide ranging action outlined in our Benefit Take-up Strategies.

Over the life of the Plan all of the actions that we committed are either being delivered or are completed. As a result we have:

  • Provided support to over 8,300 parents through Fair Start Scotland, with nearly 3,000 job starts by parents, including around 1,200 job starts by lone parents, between April 2018 and March 2022;
  • Provided support to nearly 2,900 parents, including over 1,800 lone parents, through No One Left Behind local employability services, including the Parental Employment Support Fund, between April 2020 and December 2021;
  • Applied Fair Work First conditionality to over £2.4 billion worth of public sector funding between April 2019 and March 2021, which includes nearly £620 million worth of contracts, promoting security of contracts and payment of the Real Living Wage;
  • Increased the number of real Living Wage accredited employers by just over 1,800, with almost 25,000 employees seeing an increase in their wages as a result – this has helped to support a 5% point increase in the proportion of people earning the real Living Wage or more in Scotland, rising from 80.6% in 2018 to 85.6% in 2021;
  • Almost doubled funded hours for Early Learning and Childcare from 600 hours in 2018 to 1,140 hours as of August 2021 – available for every child aged 3 and 4, and for 2 year olds who need it most – which saved families up to £4,900 per eligible child in 2021;
  • Helped more than 20,400 clients to be better off by an average of £2,000 per household – collectively better off by over £44 million – through the Money Talk Team service between November 2018 and end of March 2022. Of those supported over 11,500 were from our six priority family types, with 3,500 of those supported collectively better off by £12.5 million;
  • Delivered 35,095 affordable homes, 25,562 of which were homes for social rent (which included 9,519 council homes) between April 2018 and March 2022 – supporting an estimated 11,580 households with children into affordable housing;
  • Increased School Clothing Grant from the previous lowest level of £40 to at least £120 for every eligible primary school age child and £150 for every eligible secondary school age child from the current academic year – with over 485,000 payments issued across 2018-21;
  • Expanded universal Free School Meal provision to children in primaries 4 and 5, saving families around £400 per child, and delivered alternate Free School Meal provision during school holidays across 2020-22 for children from low income families – benefiting around 145,000 children from low income households;
  • Tackled the digital divide by providing nearly 20,000 devices and over 13,250 connectivity packages to families with children through the Connecting Scotland Programme since May 2020;
  • Extended concessionary travel to all under 22's in Scotland, with approximately 930,000 young people eligible for support estimated to save families up to £3,000 by the time their child turns 18;
  • Introduced the Scottish Child Payment, issuing more that 1.2 million individual payments to more than 95,000 clients between 15 February 2021 and 31 March 2022 – awarding £58.6 million to eligible families with a child under the age of 6.
  • Significantly increased the value of support available across the early years through our package of five family payments – which includes Best Start Foods, three Best Start Grants and the Scottish Child Payment. By the end of 2022 this support will be worth a maximum of over £10,000 by the time an eligible family's first child turns 6, this is over £8,200 more than is available elsewhere in the UK;
  • Delivered over 650,000 Carer's Allowance Supplement payments between September 2018 and December 2021, totalling £188 million to around 126,000 carers, with carers continuously in receipt of this support receiving over £2,270 more than carers in the rest of the UK.

When 'Every Child, Every Chance' was published in 2018 we had no way of predicting the impact of COVID-19 on child poverty. The immediate crisis response required a whole of Scotland approach, with many key child poverty policies requiring adaptation or redesign to meet the needs of families in Scotland. The ongoing cost of living crisis has exacerbated some of the hardship experienced during this time, further testing the ability of our child poverty interventions to provide immediate assistance and longer term support for a sustained exit from poverty.

Whilst the pandemic has undoubtedly hampered progress on some of the policy ambitions of 'Every Child, Every Chance', it has also provided valuable lessons to inform our future efforts in this area. The pandemic response demonstrated what is possible when barriers are removed; when public, private and third sector organisations work together to deliver a shared objective; and when direct support is readily available for those who need it most.

These lessons are ones that have informed the final year of this delivery plan, and the development of 'Best Start, Bright Futures'.

Key milestones reached over the life of 'Every Child, Every Chance' are set out in each of the four time lines set out below, reflecting each year of the Plan's life.

Timeline of Key Achievements


  • Fair Start Scotland launched (Apr 2018)
  • Fairer Scotland Duty comes into force (Apr 2018)
  • New Starter Rate of income tax introduced (Apr 2018)
  • Innovation Fund launched (May 2018)
  • National minimum School Clothing Grant introduced (Aug 2018)
  • Free period products made available to all pupils and students (Aug 2018)
  • Social Security Scotland started taking public enquiries (Sep 2018)
  • First payments of Carers Allowance Supplement awarded (Sep 2018)
  • Money Talk Team service launched (Nov 2018)
  • Ending Homelessness Together: High-level Action Plan published (Nov 2018)
  • Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby payment opened for applications (Dec 2018)
  • A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People - Employment Action Plan published (Dec 2018)
  • Fair Work Action Plan published (Feb 2019)
  • Gender Pay Gap Action Plan published (Mar 2019)


  • Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment opened for applications (Apr 2019)
  • No One Left Behind approach to employability support commenced (Apr 2019)
  • Investing in Communities Fund launched (May 2019)
  • Best Start Grant School Age Payment opened for applications (Jun 2019)
  • Access to Childcare Fund launched (Jun 2019)
  • Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill agreed by Parliament (Jun 2019)
  • First Local Child Poverty Action Reports published (June 2019)
  • Statutory Poverty and Inequality Commission established (Jul 2019)
  • UK Healthy Start Voucher scheme replaced with Best Start Foods (Aug 2019)
  • Consultation on draft Out of School Care Framework launched (Aug 2019)
  • Funeral Support Payment introduced (Sep 2019)
  • First Benefit Take-Up Strategy published (Oct 2019)
  • Young Carer Grant introduced (Oct 2019)
  • Parental Employability Support Fund launched (Feb 2020)
  • National Transport Strategy published (Feb 2020)
  • Family Learning Scotland launched (Mar 2020)
  • Communities Funding Package launched to help communities impacted by the Covid pandemic (Mar 2020)


  • Targeted free school meal support during school holidays commenced (April 2020)
  • Wellbeing Fund opened to bids (April 2020)
  • First awards made from the Supporting Communities Fund (May 2020)
  • Connecting Scotland launched (May 2020)
  • Social Renewal Advisory Board convened (June 2020)
  • Job Start Payment launched (Aug 2020)
  • Additional Parental Employability Support Funding is allocated to support disabled parents, young mothers and to align services with childcare (Oct 2020)
  • Updated Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan published (Oct 2020)
  • Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill 2020 agreed by Parliament (Nov 2020)
  • Young Person's Guarantee launched (Nov 2020)
  • Winter Plan for Social Protection announced (Nov 2020)
  • COVID Winter Hardship Payment awarded (Dec 2020)
  • First payments of Child Winter Heating Assistance awarded (Dec 2020)
  • Fair Work First Guidance published (Jan 2021)
  • Social Renewal Advisory Board published final report (Jan 2021)
  • Scottish Child Payment launched for eligible children under the age of 6 (Feb 2021)
  • Housing to 2040 published (Mar 2021)
  • COVID Spring Hardship Payment awarded (Mar 2021)
  • School age childcare progress report published, setting out the future policy direction (Mar 2021)
  • Dundee becomes first 'Living Wage Place' (Mar 2021)


  • Scottish Child Payment Bridging Payments awarded (Jun 2021)
  • Get into Summer announced (Jun 2021)
  • Living Hours Accreditation Scheme for Scotland launched (Aug 2021)
  • Statutory entitlement to 1,140 hours of funded Early Learning and Childcare for all eligible children comes into effect (Aug 2021)
  • Free School Meals expanded to all P4 pupils (Aug 2021)
  • Value of national minimum School Clothing Grant increased (Aug 2021)
  • First six pilots to offer free bikes to school children who cannot afford them launched (Aug 2021)
  • Tenant Grant Fund launched (Sep 2021)
  • Second Benefit Take-Up Strategy published (Oct 2021)
  • Low Income Pandemic Payment delivered (Oct 2021)
  • Winter Support Fund in place to tackle rising costs (Oct 2021)
  • Consultation on draft ending the need for food banks plan commenced (Oct 2021)
  • COVID Recovery Strategy published (Oct 2021)
  • Next phase of Scottish Attainment Challenge announced (Nov 2021)
  • Child Disability Payment launched nationally (Nov 2021)
  • Child Winter Heating Assistance eligibility is broadened (Nov 2021)
  • A New Deal for Tenants consultation launched (Dec 2021)
  • Fuel Poverty Strategy published and Scottish Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel appointed (Dec 2021)
  • Free School Meals expanded to all P5 pupils (Jan 2022)
  • Free bus travel made available to all under 22s (Jan 2022)
  • Independent Advocacy Service for Scottish social security launched (Jan 2022)
  • National Strategy for Economic Transformation published (Mar 2022)
  • Keeping The Promise Implementation Plan published (Mar 2022)


Email: tcpu@gov.scot

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