Scotland already has the lowest rate of child poverty in the UK. See:
‘Latest data: In 2015, the rate of children on a CPP or Child Protection Register was in the mid-40s per 10,000 across Wales, England and Northern Ireland. The rate in Scotland was considerably lower at 27 per 10,000. (p88)
Latest data: In 2014 the Infant Mortality Rate across the UK was 3.9 deaths per 1,000 live births: 3.9 in England and Wales, 3.6 in Scotland, and 4.8 in Northern Ireland. (p15)
Latest data: The mortality rate per 100,000 population for children aged one to nine years in 2013/2014 was 12.1 in the UK overall and 12.2 in England and Wales, 11.8 in Northern Ireland and 11.1 in Scotland. (p20)
The work of the Scottish government has already been praised. The report: ‘State of the Nation’: Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, was presented to House of Commons December 2015. Here are some of its key findings:
‘Scotland, for example, has the smallest number of children living in poverty among the constituent nations of the UK, the lowest prevalence of low pay and far more young people from deprived areas going on to higher education.’ (iv)
The above quote is taken from ‘State of the Nation: Social Mobility and Child Poverty’. The report commends the Scottish government for its efforts and compares these more than favourably with the neglect and the heartless actions of the UK government. However, that we should not gloat or that we must maintain, indeed increase, our efforts, does not mean that we should not be able to note the progress achieved so far. How else can we gauge what remains to be done? How else can we gather the strength to push on? How else can we build the strong sense of collective identity required to confidently grasp the levers of full political independence required to do so?
‘Once housing costs are taken into account, relative poverty ranges from one in five children in Scotland (21 per cent) to nearly twice this (37 per cent) in London’. (p113)
That twenty-one percent of Scotland’s children live in poverty is a monstrous blemish on the face of a democracy aspiring to much better. That it is higher everywhere else in the UK and nearly twice as high in our globalised golden capital does not excuse it, I know that. The current Scottish government makes nothing of such a comparison. It simply accepts that it is unacceptable and is now doing what it can to remedy the situation.
‘The trends in one of the key drivers of child poverty – employment – are also encouraging:
- The proportion of children in Scotland who live in workless households has decreased rapidly in recent years and is slightly lower than the UK average – only 10.9 per cent of children in Scotland live in workless households compared to 15.8 per cent in 2012 and 11.8 per cent in the UK as a whole;
- More than six out of 10 (62.5 per cent) children in Scotland live in households where all adults are in work, making Scotland the region with the most ‘fully working’ households in the UK – for example, only 54.6 per cent of children in England live in households where all adults are in work;
- Scotland has the second highest parental employment rate of any region of the UK: 83.2 per cent of people with dependent children are in work. This is driven by very high employment of mothers in couples; 79.6 per cent of whom are in work compared to 71.9 per cent in England. However, lone parents in Scotland have a relatively low employment rate – only 62.2 per cent are in work (compared to, for example, 69.8 per cent in the East of England and 69.2 per cent in Wales).’ (169)
‘State of the Nation’: Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, presented to House of Commons December 2015 at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/485926/State_of_the_nation_2015__social_mobility_and_child_poverty_in_Great_Britain.pdf
Nevertheless, the above remains unsatisfactory so a bill to tackle child poverty has been unanimously approved at its first stage by the Scottish Parliament:
‘The parliament has agreed to the general principles of the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill which will see It also provides a strong framework by which progress can be monitored at a national and local level and the government will publish a three-year child poverty delivery plan by April 2018, which will be updated every five years, and annual reports to measure progress.’