ONE in four Scottish children is living in poverty – and two-thirds of those are in a household with someone who is in paid employment, according to newly published figures from the Scottish Government.

However, the figures cover the period from April 2019 to March 2022, meaning they pre-date the full roll-out of the Scottish Child Payment, which was increased to £20 a week from April 2022 and £25 weekly from November that same year.

The figures further show that children (24% of whom live in poverty) are at higher risk than pensioners (15%) or working-age adults (21%).

In families with more than two children, 34% of them live in poverty.

The National:

The Child Poverty Action Group said that the Scottish Child Payment should now be pushing young people’s poverty rates down, and said that with further investment the target of reducing child poverty to less than 18% by 2024 “is still within reach”.

The CPAG further pointed to UK Government figures, also published on Thursday, which show that child poverty rates UK-wide (29%) are higher than in Scotland alone (24%).

The UK Government figures also show that a further 350,000 children were put into poverty in 2021/2022, which the CPAG said was “largely” due to the Tories’ £20 cut to Universal Credit.

John Dickie, CPAG director in Scotland, said: “In a rich country these scandalous levels of child poverty are utterly unacceptable and a stark reminder how vital the Scottish Government’s focus on child poverty is. The next first minister must not just sustain but increase the crucial investment being made in the Scottish Child Payment.

“It’s crystal clear from these trends across the UK that social security is critical to preventing child poverty.”

The National: John Dickie

Dickie (above) said that Scottish Government analysis showed the “most cost-effective way to reduce child poverty” would be to mitigate the impact of the UK Government’s two-child limit on benefits, which he said should ultimately be “scrapped at source”.

The CPAG has also published research to coincide with the poverty figures, which estimates child poverty costs the UK £39.5 billion a year in lost tax and earnings, unemployment benefit, and additional public services spending.

Dickie said: “It’s children that pay the highest possible price for poverty – they pay with their health, their well-being and their life chances. Our research shows the country also pays a heavy financial price.

“The human cost for the children in today’s figures is incalculable. The economic fallout for all of us is vast. But if the political will is there, child poverty can be fixed.”

READ MORE: What the Scottish Parliament CAN do to tackle the cost of living crisis

Oxfam Scotland said that the Scottish Government could be using its tax-raising powers to tackle poverty in a much more creative way, and not only proposing the odd “tweak”.

Jamie Livingstone, the head of Oxfam Scotland, said: “This disturbing data shows that the pandemic and cost of living crisis have dealt a devastating double blow to those on the lowest incomes. The UK Government must act, but the next first minister must do so too.

“They should acknowledge that tackling poverty requires greater action to narrow the yawning gap between rich and poor and use all of the powers at their disposal to do more than just tweak tax: instead, they should introduce bold, progressive taxation, including targeting wealth. Only then will they end the deep injustice of poverty for good and build a fairer future for all of us.”

The charity Action for Children accused UK ministers of knowing what works, given the action taken during the pandemic, but “choosing not to do it”, and said help has been “snatched away” from families.

The National:

The organisation’s director of policy and campaigns, Imran Hussain, said: “It’s astonishing that, despite the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis and the prospect of rising child poverty for years to come, the [UK] Government is not targeting help for children in low-income families.

“There is so much more this Government can do in these tough times to stop those with the least from suffering the most.”

Save the Children UK described the latest figures as “grim” and said that, coming a day after other figures revealed a surprise jump in inflation to 10.4% last month, they “prove families are still very much in the depths of a crisis”.

Becca Lyon, head of child poverty at the charity, said: “Families need a proper benefits system that protects them from hardship, and means children can grow up without having to know what the inside of a food bank looks like.”

The National: Shona Robison

Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison (above) said: “We recognise too many people are living in poverty which is why we are committed to break the cycle of poverty in Scotland within the scope of our powers and budget.

“Levels of poverty have fallen less than we would have hoped, given the Scottish Government’s significant investment. However these figures cover the period when the Covid-19 pandemic was having a significant economic impact and progress has also been hindered by the devastating impact of the UK Government’s decade of austerity and its welfare cuts for many Scottish families."

She added: “We will continue to use all the powers and resources available to us to provide immediate support to families and to tackle the underlying causes of poverty whilst seeking more powers so we can use all the levers we need to enable us to truly tackle poverty.”