Child poverty in Scotland

Child poverty in Scotland fell by 10 percentage points in the 10 years to 2011-12 – about twice the fall in England – according to a new report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Further reductions in child poverty, it says, hinge on tackling poverty among workless families, where poverty levels remain very high.

Key points

  • In the ten years to 2011-12, the proportion of children in poverty in Scotland fell ten percentage points, both before and after housing costs – about twice the fall in England (six and three percentage points respectively).
  • Much of the fall in child poverty in both Scotland and England is due to a fall in the high poverty rate among lone-parent families. This is likely to be due to a net improvement in employment rates compared with ten years ago, and policies – both UK-wide and Scotland-specific – that have sought to address poverty in this group.
  • Much of Scotland's additional fall in child poverty is due to a drop in poverty among working-couple parents. This is partly due to this group's shift towards 'full' working (where both adults are in work, and at least one is in full-time work). This has not happened in England.
  • Despite this success, poverty for children in workless families in Scotland remains high. Changes to benefits from 2012 are likely to have increased it further. The Scottish Government only has limited powers to intervene on reform of social security benefits. However, moves such as absorbing the cut to council tax benefit and replacing the abolished components of the Social Fund will have mitigated some of the impacts.
  • Scotland's challenge is to find a route out of poverty for the many families that experience periods when work is not an option (for example, due to ill-health, caring responsibilities, disability or lack of skills). For this group, poverty levels remain high – at 54 per cent, compared with 10 per cent for children in working families.

Source: Hannah Aldridge and Peter Kenway, Referendum Briefing: Child Poverty in Scotland, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
LinksBriefing | JRF press release | CPAG press release | BBC report | Inside Housing report

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Publication date: 
Feb 2 2014