Health charity’s inequality warning

Voluntary Health Scotland says inequalities will keep widening without child poverty action

Tuesday 25th June 2019

A charity representing more than 150 voluntary health groups across Scotland is warning health disparities between the richest and poorest Scots will continue to widen unless the Scottish Government accelerates plans to reduce child poverty.

Voluntary Health Scotland is one of more than 70 charities, faith groups and health campaigners backing a call for a new income supplement benefit to be introduced as soon as possible.

Currently, the Scottish Government plans to bring in the top up payment in 2022.

Doctors' groups have told healthandcare.scot this is too far away given the "devastating" health effects of growing up in poverty.

Ahead of a Holyrood statement tomorrow, Voluntary Health Scotland is pointing to evidence showing the stark consequences of child poverty that “can extend throughout [children's] lives.”

“Research conducted by NHS Health Scotland shows that infant mortality rates in the most deprived areas in Scotland are over 50% higher than those in the least deprived areas; children under 16 years in the lowest income households are almost four times more likely to have ‘fair’, ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’ reported general health compared to those in the highest income households; and the number of children aged 4–14 years in the lowest income households are four times as likely to have poorer mental wellbeing as those in the highest income households,” the charity tells healthandcare.scot.

“With child poverty rates set to rise we will only see these inequalities widening. Therefore, it is imperative that measures such as the Income Supplement are implemented as soon as possible and in a manner that is accessible to ensure children in Scotland are lifted out of poverty and others are prevented from falling into child poverty.”