1 in 4 Scots children in poverty

Thursday 18th July 2019

Almost one in four Scottish children were growing up in poverty in 2017-18, according to a briefing compiled by NHS Health Scotland.

Two-thirds of the 240,000 youngsters in relative poverty live in working families.

The public health agency says child poverty is ‘not inevitable’ as its analysis showed relative poverty is now on the rise despite many years of steady decline from 1997 onwards.

‘Child poverty is a public health issue. Child poverty can lead to poorer health outcomes in children, and to poorer health and social outcomes in adulthood for those children,’ it adds.

Despite the increase, child poverty levels are still lower in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK.

It follows the Scottish Government announcing it would fast-track a child benefit top up payment last month, a move described by the Child Poverty Action Group as an “absolute game changer”.

Eligible low-income families will get an extra £10 a week in a change projected to lift 30,000 children out of poverty.

GPs have told healthandcare.scot they see the scarring effects of growing up in poverty on a daily basis.

NHS Health Scotland’s examination of long-term child poverty trends also reveals having a parent in work is becoming less and less of a guarantee for growing up with enough cash for essentials.

From 2005 to 2008, half of the youngsters in poverty lived in households where at least one adult was in work. By the end of the three years from 2015 this stood at two-thirds.

Compared to other UK regions, Scotland has lower child poverty rates than inner London, the north of England and Yorkshire and the Humber, but compares unfavourably to more affluent areas like outer London and the south-east of England.

In its report, NHS Health Scotland states: ‘Addressing child poverty will require a greater attention to in-work poverty, lack of appropriate job opportunities, costs of living and, crucially, the role of the social security system.

‘The Scottish Government, NHS Health Boards and local authorities have a shared responsibility to contribute to this challenge, through the Child Poverty Act. While many of the actions required to reduce child poverty need to occur a national level, there is a lot that can and is being done locally’.