This Delivery Plan contains many actions on child poverty that the Scottish Government will take between 2018 and 2022. Here are some highlights.
Work and earnings
1. £12 million investment in new, intensive employment support for parents. This will help those already in work to build skills, progress through their careers and earn more. It will also support those who are unemployed to move into work.
2. Increased funding for the Workplace Equality Fund. £750,000 is being made available to support employer-led projects that advance equality at work, with a focus on parenthood, progression, and families at high risk of poverty.
Costs of living
3. A new minimum payment for the School Clothing Grant across Scotland. This will give most low income families more money for school uniforms and sports kit.
4. £1 million on new practical support for children experiencing food insecurity during school holidays. New research will also help us understand what further action is needed at a national level to address this problem.
5. New support for childcare after school and in the holidays. This will help low income parents reduce childcare costs, work more flexibly and increase their incomes.
6. A new focus on families in our Warmer Homes Scotland programme. This will deliver an average saving of £350 per year off fuel bills for new customers.
7. £3 million investment in a new Financial Health Check service. Personalised advice will help low income families maximise their incomes, avoiding the 'poverty premium' of higher costs for essential goods and services.
8. £1 million for the Carnegie UK Trust's Affordable Credit Loan Fund. By growing the affordable credit sector, more parents will be able to access affordable credit when they need it, reducing the problems caused by insecure incomes.
9. A new income supplement, which in time will provide vital financial support for parents on low incomes.
10. A new Best Start Grant. This new and expanded grant will offer three more generous payments at key stages for children in lower income families during the early years.
Helping families in other ways
11. £2 million investment to test the innovative Children's Neighbourhoods Scotland programme in an urban centre, a small town and a rural community, helping to improve a range of outcomes for children.
12. £1.35 million new investment for the further education sector to develop initiatives with colleges in local areas and for the Student Awards Agency for Scotland's outreach programme. These preventative approaches will help ensure young people who have grown up in poverty have sustainable routes to positive destinations and out of poverty.
13. An initial £500,000 for a new tailored community education programme for Gypsy/Traveller families. This will provide specially tailored play and early learning opportunities for pre-school children and their parents living on Gypsy/Traveller sites, amongst a range of other support.
14. A new £7.5 million Innovation Fund with The Hunter Foundation. This joint investment will support new thinking and new approaches to preventing and reducing child poverty.
15. £500,000 for the Healthier, Wealthier Children approach. This will help secure financial and practical support, through healthcare settings across Scotland, for pregnant women and families with children at risk of or experiencing poverty.
The Scottish Government is committed to ending child poverty. Every child deserves every chance and we are determined to do everything we can to deliver the change needed.
The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 requires the Scottish Government to reduce the number of children who live in poverty. By 2030, these targets must be met:
Fewer than 10% of children living in families in relative poverty. This means fewer than one in ten children living in households on low incomes, compared to the average UK household.
Fewer than 5% of children living in families in absolute poverty. This means fewer than one in twenty children living in low income households where living standards are not increasing.
Fewer than 5% of children living in families living in combined low income and material deprivation. This means fewer than one in twenty children living in low income households who can't afford basic essential goods and services.
Fewer than 5% of children living in families in persistent poverty. This means fewer than one in twenty children living in households in poverty for three years out of four.
The Act also includes a set of interim targets to be met by 2023.
All these targets are set on an 'after housing costs' basis - in other words, the income families have left after they've paid for their housing.
This Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan is for 2018-22. It sets out new policies and proposals to help us make strong progress towards these targets. Its actions are organised in two ways:
- Actions to make progress now on the three main drivers of child poverty (income from work and earnings; costs of living; income from social security)
- A range of preventative actions that help children and young people avoid becoming parents in poverty by 2030 (this includes a focus on quality of life and partnership working).
The Poverty and Inequality Commission, established by the Scottish Government in July 2017, has provided expert, independent advice on these issues and this Plan follows the structure of that advice.
Throughout, there is a focus on 'priority families' at high risk of poverty: lone parents, families with a disabled adult or child, young mothers, minority ethnic families, families with a child under 1, and larger families (with three or more children). This gives the Plan a strong equality emphasis and a specific equality impact assessment is set out at Annex 3.
We're already doing a lot to help low income families
Families living on a low income already benefit from a wide range of help from measures introduced by the Scottish Government over the last ten years.
This includes delivering 72,500 affordable homes so far; massive investment to increase free early learning and childcare; providing free school meals for children in low income families (and for all children in Primary 1-3) which saves families around £380 per child per year; investing more than £1 billion in the Council Tax Reduction scheme since 2013-14, helping almost half a million households each year; the Scottish Welfare Fund, providing crisis and community care grants; a new baby box of essential goods for every newborn; our on-going commitment to the Living Wage and supporting women in and into work; introduction of the Independent Living Fund; full relief from the bedroom tax; and our broader commitment to a 'social contract' - the offer all citizens should expect to receive, which includes free prescriptions and no tuition fees.
In this parliamentary term, our defining mission is to improve the education and life chances of children and young people. The Scottish Attainment Challenge, our national commitment to help tackle and ultimately close the poverty-related attainment gap, is backed by £750 million investment, allocated in three ways:
- £120 million Pupil Equity Funding - for headteachers to invest in approaches that meet local needs;
- £45 million Challenge Authorities and Schools Programmes - for schools in areas with high levels of multiple deprivation; and
- A small number of national programmes, such as developing new routes into teaching, which help support the aims of the Challenge.
So we're already doing a lot to help children living in low income families in a range of ways, but we know we need to do more.
New action on work and earnings
Sustainable, fair work is a long-term route out of poverty for families. To be sustainable, employment needs to offer parents decent rates of pay, good training and support, opportunities to progress, a flexible work environment, and enough hours in work to provide a weekly or monthly pay packet that - as a minimum - meets basic family needs.
Our new actions on Fair Work include investing £12 million between 2019 and 2022 on intensive key worker support for parental employment. This support will help those parents who face considerable barriers returning to work, with a particular focus on our priority families. It will also help parents already in employment to stay in work and progress through a rewarding career.
This new support offer is being developed alongside our national devolved employment support service, Fair Start Scotland. Fair Start Scotland goes live in April 2018 and will support at least 38,000 people over three years of referrals and will have positive impacts on around 7,000 children.
The Plan offers increased funding for the Workplace Equality Fund. £750,000 is being made available to support employer-led projects that advance equality at work, with a focus on parenthood, progression, and families at high risk of poverty.
The Plan also makes clear our intention to build a Living Wage Nation, with a focus on engaging with sectors, such as tourism and hospitality, in which low pay (and women's low pay in particular) is a concern.
New action on costs of living
We know that, for families on low incomes, costs of living can be high. Heating a family-sized home, feeding growing children, buying shoes, school uniforms and sports kit, equipment for school or hobbies, paying childcare and travel costs all add up. Families on low incomes often end up paying an unfair 'poverty premium' for basic essentials - for example, because they have a pre-payment energy meter, or are paying over the odds to a rent-to-own scheme to replace white goods because they can't access the cheap credit those on higher incomes can.
We're taking action to help. The Plan sets out our expansion plans for early learning and childcare and a new commitment on after school and holiday childcare. Lack of access to childcare is a key barrier to entering work for many parents, particularly lone parents, or to increasing their hours and their take home pay. The Poverty and Inequality Commission recommended that the Scottish Government should be developing a strategic framework for after school care as a priority and that's what we are now doing.
We're working with local authorities to reduce the costs of the school day and together we will deliver a new minimum for school clothing grants across Scotland - making sure that low income families, no matter where they live, get the help they need to get their kids ready for school.
We know too that while free school meal entitlement is a massive help for parents, there is concern about meals during school holidays. There's some excellent local practice developing and we want to find out more. So, as well as new research into provision locally, we're committing an extra £500,000 this year and next (£1 million new investment) to the annual £1 million we already invest in tackling food insecurity for this purpose.
On housing, the largest cost most parents have to cover, we're working with partners in the housing sector on keeping rents affordable. We're also taking action to boost take up of the Warmer Homes Scotland programme by our priority families. This programme, which tackles fuel poverty, delivers average fuel bill savings of £350 per year.
We're introducing a new Financial Health Check Guarantee for low income families in 2018 - investing £3 million in personalised advice to help with the poverty premium and benefit uptake to maximise incomes.
We're also committing £1 million of match-funding with the Carnegie UK Trust in its Affordable Credit Loan Fund. Insecurity of income is one of the biggest challenges faced by those living in poverty, and while short-term affordable credit is obviously no long-term answer to child poverty, it is part of the complex picture of provision that can help families get through a difficult time with money. Our investment will help the affordable credit sector to grow.
Costs of living can be more expensive in rural areas. Higher prices in local shops, additional delivery charges, greater distances to services, higher energy costs, lack of local childcare and a lack of competition from digital providers can all make life difficult. We'll be looking in detail at how we make sure the specific concerns of rural areas are addressed as we roll out this Plan.
New action on social security
We know from past experience at UK level that social security can play an important part in tackling child poverty. Child poverty rates in the UK fell in the early 2000s in part because of new benefits that were introduced for families. Of course, the reverse is also true - recent UK Governments have cut social security very deeply and this has led to rising child poverty across the UK.
We are introducing a range of new social security support. The key action here is our commitment to work towards introducing a new income supplement within the lifetime of this Plan. This will deliver regular, additional financial help to low income families.
In addition, the Best Start Grant ( BSG) will provide lower-income families with financial support during the early years of a child's life. From summer 2019, BSG will replace and expand upon the UK Government's Sure Start Maternity Grant by providing eligible families with £600 on the birth of their first child and £300 on the birth of any subsequent children; and giving eligible families two further payments of £250 around the time of nursery and around the time a child starts school. Unlike the UK benefit, there is no limit on the number of children in a family who can be supported by BSG.
In terms of other support, the Job Grant will provide £250 for young parents, unemployed for six months or more, when they return to work. This will help with the basic costs of doing so. And we're providing more help for carers - an increase in Carer's Allowance to the level of Job Seeker's Allowance later this year and, from 2019, a new Young Carer Grant of £300 each year for carers aged 16 and 17. This will provide vital help to some of our lowest income households.
New action to help families in other ways
The Poverty and Inequality Commission advised the Scottish Government to focus on work, costs of living, and social security - as we have done above. The Commission also said that we shouldn't ignore issues of quality of life for children in poverty now. Actions on quality of life, even if they don't immediately affect the targets, can improve long-term outcomes. This is, after all, a plan for 2030: our actions need to prevent children in poverty becoming adults with children in poverty by that date. So we're developing action to help children and families participate in their communities, cope with adversity and build resilience.
We're taking a range of action. For example, we're investing £2 million to extend the Children's Neighbourhoods Scotland programme - which is being piloted in Dalmarnock in Glasgow - into another urban centre, a small town and a rural community. The programme has a strong international pedigree and aims to develop services to reduce poverty, extend power within communities, and improve outcomes for children and young people.
We are supporting the further education sector to develop initiatives with colleges in local areas, investing £1.2 million over the course of the Plan. This work will take account of young mothers and fathers in further education. Additional support (£150,000) is provided for the Student Awards Agency for Scotland's outreach programme.
We're investing an initial £500,000 over the course of the Delivery Plan for a new tailored community education programme for Gypsy/Traveller families. This will provide specially tailored play and early learning opportunities for pre-school children and their parents living on Gypsy/Traveller sites, amongst a range of other family support.
We're also working with Young Scot to develop the National Entitlement Card so it targets support, incentives and rewards to children and young people living in low income households.
New partnership working
We already work with a wide range of key partners to help low income families.
We're setting up a new £7.5 million Innovation Fund with The Hunter Foundation to trial new and innovative approaches to prevention and redesigning services. We've agreed with the Foundation that the Fund should aim to achieve sustained systemic change, with a view to speeding up progress on the targets.
We're also strengthening existing partnerships in a number of ways, with the Poverty Alliance, with communities via the Empowering Communities Fund, and with the STV Children's Appeal with guaranteed funding of £1 million per year for the transformative work they do.
In addition, we're providing a range of support to local areas for their own work on child poverty. We're funding a new national coordinator to help local authorities and health boards plan and report on their own actions. We are also partnering with the new Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit at Glasgow Caledonian University, offering a range of analytical and policy advice.
How we're assessing impact
This Delivery Plan is the first of three plans that will take us from now to 2030. Many of our interventions have a long-term focus and, because we are operating in the context of on-going UK austerity, we do not expect the 2030 targets to be achieved quickly. We have commissioned a set of projections that show the scale of the challenge once planned UK Government welfare cuts have been introduced in full.
Despite this challenging backdrop, we need to have measures in place to ensure that progress is being made. The description of each action in the Plan includes a box showing resources allocated (where these are known) and a short assessment of impact. However, all new interventions in the key drivers sections ( chapters 2, 3 and 4) required a more detailed line of sight to the targets to be included within the Plan. This rationale is set out for each new intervention in these chapters, with the full detail of how we have made these assessments set out in Chapter 7.
To track progress going forward, we will report against a new measurement framework that tracks key indicators of the drivers of child poverty. And we are committing to ensuring that each action in the Plan is properly monitored and evaluated, so we can learn from what works as we develop future policies in our journey towards 2030.