Scotland in 2018: one in four kids in poverty

Poverty web

An independent poverty group has said reforms are needed to childcare, flexible working and benefits to help Scottish families

2nd October 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

A quarter of Scottish children live in poverty as their parents are being locked out the jobs market.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found 230,000 children in Scotland are living in poverty, with increases also being driven by UK benefits changes.

The charity has said a shift in attitudes, policy and practice is needed on childcare, flexible work and benefits is needed, with the majority of children in poverty because their parents are restricted by a lack of work, mainly due to disability, or the struggle to juggle work and childcare.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of the independent organisation, said one in four children are exposed to the harmful reality of living in poverty.

“Families in Scotland are facing impossible situations such as deciding whether to pay the rent, put food on the table or pay for heating,” he said.

“There is consensus across the Scottish Parliament that this unacceptable situation of so many children in poverty will be brought to an end within a generation. This is achievable. But it means the Scottish Government needs to lead the way, working with and encouraging employers to open opportunities for parents with disabilities or caring commitments, so everyone can build a decent and secure life.”

The foundation recommends that the Scottish Government should raise awareness and encourage good practice among employers to make flexible work for men and women easier. It is also calling for tackling poverty to be put at the centre of new strategies on disability employment and the gender pay gap.

Communities secretary Aileen Campbell said the Scottish Government would work with the charity on its solutions, but UK government cuts are significantly increasing the numbers of children in poverty.

She said: "Whilst this means we are tackling poverty with one hand tied behind our back, I know if we take action in the right ways, we have the chance to reduce child poverty to the lowest levels ever in Scotland's history and that is a future all of us want."

The UK government said the proportion of people in Scotland living in absolute poverty was at a record low, including for children.

Bill Scott, deputy chief executive of Inclusion Scotland, said the report shows that addressing disability poverty and the disability employment gap is key to tackling child poverty.

“The Joseph Rowntree Foundation report confirms that 40% of children in poverty in Scotland live in families where a family member has a disability or limiting health condition," he said.

“Disabled people have borne the brunt of UK government welfare cuts, described by the UN as a human catastrophe, and are much less likely to be in employment.

“Child poverty in Scotland will not be tackled until governments start to take seriously the need to address disability poverty and the disability employment gap.”

The report comes as the Poverty Alliance launched a new campaign - entitled Challenge Poverty? Aye we can! - which aims to show how poverty in Scotland can be solved and allow everyone to take part in society.

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “In our society we believe in doing the right thing. It’s simply not acceptable that we are letting one in four of our children slip into poverty.

“All across Scotland groups and organisations are coming together as part of Challenge Poverty Week to highlight the problem and show what they are doing to help overcome the barriers that lock so many children and families in poverty. They are providing vital support to help loosen the grip of poverty on people’s lives.

“We know what can be achieved when the right solutions are in place. But we also know that much more needs to be done. That’s why more concerted action is required from Scottish government and business. The success of the voluntary real Living Wage in Scotland shows what can be done, but there is a need to build on this success.”