Child poverty rising in every Scottish council area, campaigners warn
Child poverty has risen in every Scottish council area since 2015, even before the impact of the pandemic is considered, campaigners have warned.
The End Child Poverty coalition points to research from Loughborough University which shows estimates of children living in poverty in each local authority have increased.
Child poverty rates for 2019-20 range from 15.8% in the Shetland Islands to 32.2% in Glasgow, though figures were calculated before the onset of coronavirus.
At 24%, Scotland has lower levels of child poverty than England (30%) or Wales (31%).
Holyrood has unanimously passed legislation requiring the Scottish Government to ensure fewer than 18% of children are living in poverty by 2023/24, on course to less than 10% by 2030.
Campaigners say there can be no complacency if these targets are to be met.
Speaking on behalf of the End Child Poverty coalition, John Dickie (pictured) said: “Solid foundations have been laid in Scotland for future progress on child poverty, not least the introduction of the Scottish Child Payment and an increasing focus on action at local level.
“But this new data is a stark reminder that child poverty was still rising in every part of Scotland, even before the pandemic struck.
“The challenge now is for government at all levels to use every power they have to boost family incomes and reduce the costs that struggling parents face.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “While child poverty levels remain lower than in England and Wales, we are not complacent and are doing all we can to tackle and reduce child poverty in Scotland.
“We are providing support worth about £5,000 by the time a child turns six through the Best Start Grant, Best Start Foods and Scottish Child Payment.
“This payment, worth £40 every four weeks, is already reaching thousands of families on low incomes – we are working to deliver it to all eligible children under 16 by the end of 2022 and doubling the value of the payment by the end of this Parliamentary term.
“The 2021-22 Scottish Budget commits further investment to tackle child poverty, including £100 million to support struggling families through new Pandemic Support Payments and £49.75m for expanded free school meal support.
“These statistics highlight that, even before the pandemic began, the challenge of negotiating the UK’s welfare system has left many people in desperate need of help.
“The UK Government must act now to match our action and commit to making permanent the £20 uplift to Universal Credit, and extend this to people on other benefits.”
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