6. The Child Poverty Delivery Plan
Question 9 asked:
What are your views on the proposal that Scottish Ministers will be required by the Bill to produce a Child Poverty Delivery Plan every five years, and to report on this Plan annually? (105 respondents answered this question)
In general, respondents agree that the proposal to produce a Child Poverty Delivery plan every five years and to report on the plan annually would be appropriate. Several responses highlighted that the five year plan was a 'realistic timeframe' and would provide a strategic focus and allow a focus on longer-term outcomes; but also that it is important to assess progress regularly to 'provide accountability and transparency', which the annual reporting would allow.
"As noted in the consultation document, the reduction or eradication of child poverty represents a long term transformational challenge. In order to encourage the long term planning and actions required to meet this challenge it is useful to set an ambitious target outwith the short term timeframe held by most policies and strategies. The development of short term plans alongside annual reports showing progress towards this long term target is one the Council would welcome in principle." (Local authority council)
A few mentioned that aligning the delivery plan with parliamentary terms would be helpful, but also that the first delivery plan should be produced as soon as practicable with the current parliament. Others highlighted the importance of being able to revise and review delivery plans at regular intervals in order to take account of changing circumstances.
A few respondents noted that careful thought would need to be given to what would be reported annually, as many indicators would not be expected to change in this timeframe:
"As to annual reporting, there may be some measures that will show movement on an annual basis however others may well take years to manifest. How this would look (being reported on an annual basis) may well impact on the way the implementation of the Bill will be received i.e. the negative (no perceived movement in measures) will outweigh the positive impacts and changes made." (South Lanarkshire)
A few suggested that the annual reports should be presented to Parliament and scrutinised by Committee:
"The Foundation would suggest that the annual report on the Child Poverty Delivery Plan should be presented to the Parliament and debated in the Chamber (as happens with the Scottish National Action Plan on Human Rights for example). There should also be Committee involvement in scrutinising plans and progress." (Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland)
Several respondents underlined the importance of taking into account local authority planning structures and reporting timescales, including Children's Services planning and Local Outcome Improvement Plans:
"To ensure an integrated approach, it would be helpful if the Child Poverty Delivery Plan was developed in collaboration with [Community Planning Partnerships] and people with lived experience of poverty, to ensure that it adequately reflects their aspirations…The reporting timescales are required to be realistic and in line/integrated with other reporting structures, such as the existing Children's Services Planning requirements such as the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014." (Aberdeenshire Council)
As above, the need to collaborate with Community Planning Partnerships was also underlined by some.
A minority of respondents questioned whether five-yearly delivery plans would be the most appropriate timeframe. Some individual responses felt five years was too long. A few organisational responses suggested a four-yearly timeframe in order to allow three delivery plans to be produced within the timeframe:
"This would only allow for two new delivery plans. A four year plan would allow for this to be revised more often. We agree that annual reporting is necessary to monitor progress." (Local authority council)
Others suggested a three-yearly timeframe so as to be consistent with other local reporting structures, such as Children's Planning cycles.
The importance of adequately resourcing the delivery plan and being clear on actions and responsibilities was again highlighted in responses to this question:
"It is important that this delivery plan is adequately resourced and that resources required for its realisation are set aside at each spending review between now and 2030. The delivery plan must also clearly set out actions, allocate responsibilities and identify funds." ( UNISON)
Publishing an Equality Impact Assessment alongside each Delivery Plan to ensure "all equalities groups have been considered in the development, delivery and progress of the Plan" (Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights ( CRER)) was suggested. It was also noted that dissemination of the Delivery Plan is important:
"The Scottish Government should also consider how the reporting on the delivery plan can be made accessible, meaningful and transparent to people living in poverty across Scotland." (Local authority council)