One In Four Scots Children In Poverty

One-in-four Scots children is living in poverty, according to a new report released today by a leading children’s charity. Barnardo’s Scotland said about 250,000 youngsters are currently living below the breadline.

The charity has called on First Minister Alex Salmond to give priority to helping those families it said are living on less than 60% of the average household income. The report said there should be free school meals for children with parents on the maximum working tax credit.

It has also asked for a special commission to be established to identify the policies needed to meet the Scottish and UK governments’ targets of halving child poverty by 2010. In the report, It Doesn’t Happen Here, Barnardo’s Scotland warns that without an investment of £3.8bn the country’s leaders are going to miss the 2010 target and that of eradicating the problem completely by 2020.

Martin Crewe, director of Barnardo’s Scotland, said: “Today in Scotland children are missing out on what most of us would consider essentials. Although the Scottish Executive has taken steps to reduce child poverty, we should be ashamed that one-in-four children is still living in poverty in Scotland today, when the UK is the fifth-richest economy in the world.

“The Scottish and UK governments must show their commitment and keep their promise to halve child poverty by 2010.” Mr Crewe added: “This is a wonderful opportunity for the new First Minister, Alex Salmond, to create a real legacy for Scotland’s children.”

A poll of more than 2000 people, commissioned by Barnardo’s, found that nearly three-quarters (74%) of Scots thought the number of children living in poverty was much lower than one in four. The survey also found that people are sceptical about whether the government will take action.

Barnardo’s defines children living in poverty as those being brought up on less than 60% of the average income – less than £301 for a couple with two children and £223 for a lone parent with two children, after housing costs.