1. Background and context
This report presents the findings of an analysis of responses to the Scottish Government's consultation on a Child Poverty Bill for Scotland.
In July 2015, the UK Government announced their intention to repeal significant proportions of the Child Poverty Act 2010 via the Welfare Reform and Work Bill. They proposed to replace the four income-based targets with measures on worklessness and educational attainment; to remove the child poverty aspects of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission's remit; and to rename the legislation the 'Life Chances Act'.
Scottish Ministers fundamentally disagreed with this approach; in particular, the removal of targets, and the use of alternative measures that do not take income into account. In the Scottish Government's view, this represents a shift towards characterising poverty as a lifestyle choice rather than addressing the social and economic drivers that cause people to fall into or remain in poverty.
The Scottish Government therefore requested an opt-out from the UK Government's approach and worked to bring forward amendments to the Bill repealing all parts of the 2010 Act that imposed any duty on Scottish Ministers, and sought legislative consent from the Scottish Parliament. The UK Government's Welfare Reform and Work Bill was passed with the requested amendments in March 2016, meaning that the Scottish Government is in a position to bring forward proposals for a Scottish approach to tackling and measuring child poverty.
The Scottish Government has proposed that the key purpose of the Child Poverty Bill will be to enshrine in legislation a Scottish Government ambition to eradicate child poverty. That ambition will be underpinned by the reinstatement of statutory income targets, against which our progress can be judged, and a robust 'Team Scotland' Delivery Plan.
1.2. The consultation
The consultation ran from 8 th August 2016 until 30 th September 2016 on the Citizen Space website. A consultation document was issued and this explored views on the Scottish Government's proposals for a Child Poverty Bill, including:
- Enshrining in legislation an ambition to eradicate child poverty
- Reinstating statutory income-based targets to reduce the number of children living in poverty
- Placing a duty on Scottish Ministers to develop a Child Poverty Delivery Plan, and to report on annually on their progress towards delivering that plan.
The consultation asked 11 questions. One of these questions asked respondents to express their agreement or disagreement with the proposal to include in statute an ambition to eradicate child poverty, while the remainder asked for general views on the other proposals. All of the questions provided an opportunity for respondents to give detailed information. A full list of the questions is provided at Annex 1.
An online response form was provided through Citizen Space on which respondents could record their answers. Respondent information was also gathered using this form.
1.3. Submissions and responses
A total of 116 responses were received. The types of respondent are set out in Table 1. Three quarters of responses were from organisations, with around a quarter of responses from third sector organisations. A full list of respondents (excluding individual responses and organisations who wished to remain anonymous) is provided at Annex 2.
Table 1: Respondents by category
|Third Sector organisations||31||27%|
|Representative bodies, trade bodies or trade unions||9||8%|
|Private sector organisations or trusts||1||1%|
The majority of respondents addressed the specific questions and followed the format of the response form, although not all of them addressed all of the questions. Two respondents answered only Question 10 (on the Measurement Framework). A total of six did not follow the form, and provided their response either at Question 11 or in a separate document.
Additionally, the Scottish Youth Parliament ( SYP) consulted with young people on the topic of child poverty in Scotland, based on the proposals set out in the consultation document. The Scottish Youth Parliament staff team facilitated two small group discussions with groups made up of 15 young people between the ages of 14 and 25, with mixed experiences of poverty. The Scottish Youth Parliament response presented a thematic summary of these discussions. The young people's views are incorporated into the relevant sections of the analysis.
1.4. Analysis of the data and presentation of the information
The analysis of the data involved a number of stages, which were:
- Export of the responses in a spreadsheet from the Citizen Space website.
- Quantitative analysis (where appropriate).
- Preparation of a series of Word documents for the qualitative material, containing all responses to each question.
- Identification of the key themes and sub-themes for each question.
- Summary of the findings and preparation of the report.
The presentation of the information involves a small amount of quantitative material, although most of the detail is qualitative. The quantitative information includes:
- The number of respondents overall, and the number/proportions of different types of respondents (Table 1 above).
- The views expressed at the "yes/no" question (Question 1).
The additional comments made at each question (e.g. where respondents were asked to give reasons for their answer, or to provide more general views) provided a large amount of additional qualitative detail. It would be inappropriate to attempt to quantify these views for a number of reasons, including that:
- The report refers to the views of those people and organisations who responded to the consultation. This is not necessarily representative of all views on the consultation. As such, it is not possible to generalise from these findings.
- The nature of the exercise, small numbers and type of question did not lend themselves to quantitative analysis; hence the focus of the qualitative analysis was on the range and nature of views, rather than a "weighing" of responses.
- Some responses represented the views of a number of individuals or organisations.
Qualitative terms (e.g. "a few"; "several"; "many"; etc.) are used to present the detailed information, and the overall themes and range and depth of views are described. The full text of the responses can be viewed on the Scottish Government website.
The remainder of the report presents the findings of the consultation analysis, as follows.
- Section 2: An ambition to eradicate child poverty (Question 1)
- Section 3: The income-based targets (Questions 2, 5, 6, 7 and 8)
- Section 4: The role of the Ministerial Advisory Group on Child Poverty (Question 3)
- Section 5: Links between the national strategy and local implementation (Question 4)
- Section 6: The Child Poverty Delivery Plan (Question 9)
- Section 7: The Child Poverty Measurement Framework (Question 10)