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Tackling child poverty top priority

Published: 9 Oct 2015 10:37

UK Government assault on tax credits hampering further improvements.

Progress on child poverty is being made, but worsening UK Government cuts will impede further improvements, Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil said today.

Published today, the Child Poverty Strategy report for Scotland 2014-17 is the first full year of reporting on the new framework for measuring progress on child poverty.

Despite decreases in child poverty before housing costs, after housing costs were taken into account, child poverty did not decrease and remained unchanged at 210,000 children.

The vast majority of the 37 indicators in the new measurement framework show improvement or stability, while two show a worsening.

Measuring and reporting on the statistics helps monitor progress and determine what action to take and what resources are required.

Mr Neil said: "Although the report shows progress being made in some areas, any child living in poverty is unacceptable.

"The UK Government is gearing up for devastating cuts to tax credits, which will hit thousands of low income working families next year.

"It is also planning changes to the definition of poverty to exclude working poor households. The Scottish Government rejects this approach.

"Whilst the UK Government chooses to sweep the issue of child poverty under the carpet, we will continue to report on our measurement framework and will work with stakeholders to tackle child poverty.

"It is clear from this report that within powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament, we are making progress on the wide range of drivers that cause child poverty. We have argued against austerity so that the brunt of cuts are not on the backs of our poorest people.

"In this challenging environment, we have extended free childcare provision, free school meals and invested £296 million to mitigate the effects of UK Government benefits cuts.

"We have also expanded free early learning and childcare to more than a quarter of two year olds, invested heavily in attainment and bridging the education gap and appointed our first Independent Poverty Adviser.

"Having the full levers or powers over tax and welfare would mean we could do much more to improve lives of children."

The Scottish Government is undertaking research on the impact of further planned UK Government tax credit cuts in Scotland.

Notes to editors

The Child Poverty Act 2010 requires Scottish Ministers to publish a Scottish Child Poverty Strategy and report annually to the Scottish Parliament.

The report, which will help inform future Scottish Government policy, has been developed with the Ministerial Advisory Group on Child Poverty, leading children's organisations and experts in child poverty.

The report is available at: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/10/9574