Levels of child poverty across Scotland are on course to reach a 20-year high within the next five years, as a new report warns that the Scottish Government is at risk of missing it’s own poverty reduction targets.
The analysis shows that relative child poverty has been rising since 2011-12, with the latest figures for 2016-17 showing that 23% of children across Scotland are living below the breadline.
The Resolution Foundation, who carried out the conclusive study, says the child poverty rate across Scotland is likely to continue rising over the next five years, and to hit a 20-year high of around 29% by 2023-24, without the introduction of “radical changes” by the Scottish Government to help mitigate the damaging affect of UK-wide benefit changes.
According to the report, an extra 60,000 children across Scotland are at risk of being plunged into relative poverty, defined as living on less than 60% of median household income, by the financial year 2023-24.
While the Resolution Foundation aknowledges and accepts that benefit changes imposed by Westminster are largely to blame for recent increases in child poverty across the UK, it also argues that the Scottish Government “need to implement much more radical changes to social security than it has done to date” to lessen the impact of Tory cuts.
The Foundation argues that while it will take a major policy shift by the UK Government to reverse the worrying rise in child poverty across the UK, the Scottish Government is not powerless to act in order to make progress on its own child poverty targets.
However, it notes that a new ‘Income Supplement’, which is due to be introduced by 2022, could have a limited but positive impact on child poverty levels in Scotland.
Adam Corlett, Senior Economic Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Child poverty across Scotland is on course to rise substantially in the coming years, and risks reaching a 20-year high by 2023.
“This would mean a further 60,000 children across Scotland falling below the poverty line, and the Scottish government missing its target to reduce child poverty by over 100,000 children.
“This worrying rise in poverty is almost entirely driven by UK-wide decisions, such as the £12bn worth of working-age benefits cuts. But that doesn’t mean policy makers in Scotland are powerless to respond.
“If the Scottish government is to meet its ambitious – and welcome – child poverty reduction targets, it will need to implement much more radical changes to social security than it has done to date.”