Report Highlights Scotland’s Child Poverty

More than 90,000 children in Scotland live in “severe poverty”, according to a study by Save the Children (STC). The charity has classified that just under 10% of the country’s one million youngsters as living in its worst poverty bracket.

It comprises children aged 15 or under living with two parents who bring home less than £7,000 a year after paying for housing costs. The statistic is in the charity’s Living Below the Radar report.

STC’s findings, which were published on Tuesday, suggest that one third of children in severe poverty cannot afford play equipment such as a bike or a football, while a quarter miss out on going to toddler or play groups once a week.

The report also found that about 20% of the under-privileged youngsters cannot afford to celebrate occasions like Christmas or birthdays. It has been prepared using annual government figures analysing family resources, which STC says does not measure “severe poverty”.

About 72% of severely poor children live in jobless households, the study has also calculated. Researchers concluded that a third of households affected are not receiving benefits or tax credits to which they are entitled.

In Scotland, 18% of children are classified as being in non-severe poverty, or living in households with incomes of £10,350 after housing costs. But Scotland’s youngsters appear to fare well compared to most other parts of the UK. The country has the fourth lowest proportion of severely poor children, behind south east and south west England, both at 6.9%, and east England with 7.2%. London is the worst area for severe poverty, with 17%.

Jane Gibreel, Save the Children’s programme director for Scotland, said the poverty figures were an outrage, and called for the government to invest more in poor communities. She said: “We can’t let these children slip below the radar. They’re the children who are hardest to reach, need the most help and the greatest investment to lift them out of poverty.”

Douglas Hamilton, the charity’s head of policy and research in Scotland, urged government action to tackle the situation among the poorest families. He said: “Current initiatives to help parents back into work are not having an impact on the poorest and more needs to be done to maximise benefit take-up.

The Scottish government needs to work in partnership with the UK Government to ensure that assistance reaches those who need it most. We are also calling on the Scottish Parliament to conduct an inquiry into child poverty in Scotland and make it a key priority.”

The Scottish government said it welcomed the STC’s contribution to the poverty debate. A spokeswoman said: “We are committed to eradicating child poverty by 2020 and improving the life choices of all people across Scotland by targeting the causes of poverty and providing greater access to jobs and nursery provision, enhancement of skills, and better health services.

“Children deserve the best possible start in life and we do not want to see any child being born into or condemned to a life of poverty. We welcome this contribution to the debate on poverty and will carefully consider the recommendations contained within this new report.”

The report defines children as being in severe poverty if their household incomes are less than half the median sum of £19,000, and the households are also deprived of two or more adult necessities. Similar families are classed as not being in poverty if their mean household income after housing costs is £24,000 per year.