Tackling child poverty priority families overview

An overview of evidence on the six priority family types identified as being at higher risk of child poverty. Slide deck can be found in the supporting documents.

Families with children under one

Key demographics

For some families having a baby can be a trigger point for falling into, or deeper into, poverty.

Over a quarter of children in this group in relative poverty also live in a household with a disabled family member (28%) and over a third live in a household with three or more children (39%).

Mothers who stop paid work after having a child and do not return by the time the child is five are more likely to be younger and single mothers.

Income from employment

Most see a reduction in their income from employment – due to reduced income from parental leave or re-adjustment of working patterns.

Current parental leave policies assume women need to undertake majority of childcare. For those fortunate to be eligible for maternity pay, this is still below the Living Wage.

When ready to go to work, the labour market still needs to support well-paid, flexible options and work practices that foster gender equality and facilitate family life.

Costs of living

High cost of welcoming a baby into the family.

Direct impact of cost of living crisis: increases to infant formula and nappies. Very limited, or non-existent, flexibility to cut back on baby essentials.

There is a difference in public funding for childcare by age, with less support for children younger than two, which may be a barrier to work for new parents.

Income from social security

Insecure and unpredictable work can affect women’s entitlement to  Statutory Maternity Pay/Maternity Allowance.

Although Statutory Maternity Leave is available for 52 weeks, statutory Maternity Pay is only payable for 39 weeks.

Many parents re-access or access social security payments following birth of child. While, in Scotland, support has positively impacted families, this is against the backdrop of damaging benefit restrictions by UK Government.

What works

Balance between policies that boost income, progress gender equality (in and out of home), and target inequalities in children’s early childhood environments. Three main pillars for policies to focus on:

  • comprehensive support for families in early parenting to foster development of strong attachment and parent-child relationships
  • boosting income and reducing social segregation for example through housing policy
  • high quality mental health care and reducing barriers for accessing that care


Email: social-justice-analysis@gov.scot
Twitter: @EqualityPoverty
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