Despite already having the lowest rate of child poverty in the UK, Scotland will become the first and only part with statutory targets to tackle it

Money-child

From news.gov.scot today:

‘Scotland is to become the only part of the UK with statutory targets to tackle child poverty after the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill was unanimously passed by the Scottish Parliament. The Bill will:

  • Set in statute targets to reduce child poverty by 2030
  • Place a duty on ministers to publish child poverty delivery plans at regular intervals and to report on progress annually
  • Place a duty on local authorities and health boards to report annually on what they are doing to contribute to reducing child poverty
  • Establish a Poverty and Inequality Commission.’

This act is especially encouraging in that Scotland already has significantly lower levels of child poverty than the rest of the UK:

‘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

I appreciate that these are 2015 figures but have no reason to think that a further two years of brutal Tory rule in the UK and of SNP rule in Scotland will done anything other than to widen the gap. A number of recent actions by the Scottish Government designed to reduce inequalities seem likely to be having positive effects on levels of child poverty by reducing poverty among poorer parents:

58 000 baby boxes to help increase life chances and now Scotland will be the first country in the world to provide free sanitary products to ‘end period poverty’. This is the kind of country I want to live in.

80 000 lowest paid workers in NHS England still on poverty wages as NHS Scotland follows Scottish Government policy to pay a living wage to all public-sector employees

 

In the report, Equalities Secretary Angela Constance said:

‘With one in four children living in poverty, we need to take urgent action – both to help those children who are living in poverty now, and to prevent future generations of children growing up in poverty.  We have already announced a Tackling Child Poverty Fund worth £50 million. This Bill will go even further and see statutory targets to reduce and ultimately eradicate child poverty. This is in stark contrast to the action being taken by the UK Government, which has abolished its child poverty unit and child poverty targets. Meeting our ambitious new targets will be challenging and it will seem like we are often fighting with one hand behind our back in the face of the cuts, which are set to increase child poverty across the UK by around one million children. But the Scottish Government intends to take positive action to address child poverty and tackle the deep seated generational inequalities in our society.’

https://news.gov.scot/news/tackling-child-poverty-1

Of course, setting targets is a ‘double-edged sword’. As we see regularly, with NHS targets, failure to hit targets even though performance is notably better than elsewhere in the UK, is easily used by our Unionists politicians and unprofessional media to attack the Scottish Government. Hopefully, it will be one target for 2030 (post-Independence) with no interim targets.

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18 thoughts on “Despite already having the lowest rate of child poverty in the UK, Scotland will become the first and only part with statutory targets to tackle it

  1. macgilleleabhar November 9, 2017 / 4:21 pm

    With this post and your other post “Business is booming……” you illustrate perfectly in my opinion the difference between the Social Democracy tendency in Holyrood and the rabid Neoliberalism at Westminster. There seems to be a tacit understanding among the non-Unionists in Scotland as to who the State is for.
    A difference between a long term prosperous sustainable society and constant “Fire fighting”, quick fixes and despicable differences in wealth .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. broadbield November 9, 2017 / 4:47 pm

    This a brave and timely announcement. The IFS, not my favourite Think Tank, but certainly the BBC’s favourite, has predicted considerable increases in child poverty in the coming few years because “poorer families with children get a large share of their income from benefits – so they are more exposed to planned benefit cuts, and larger families are especially affected by the limiting of means-tested benefits to two children.”

    Great work, John.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Clydebuilt November 9, 2017 / 4:55 pm

    Wonder what Ruthless thinks of this Very Good News. Is she pleased but feels the need to keep it hidden. . . . Or is she snarling at Scotland doing better than England, not caring a jot about Kids living in Scotland?

    most of the time she excels at The Snarling. . . . Ruthless and Snarling . . . Two words that belong in the same sentence.

    Suppose the same could be put to The Labour Party in Scotland.

    Like

  4. Clydebuilt November 9, 2017 / 5:00 pm

    Ending child poverty, baby boxes, living wages, . . . . Are the Real Socislists, McKennema and Catless Boyd going to be satisfied.?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. broadbield November 9, 2017 / 5:25 pm

    Even as we speak I imagine McKennema will be penning (probably using a poisonous one) an item for the Grauniad explaining how the SNP aiming to end child poverty is a grandstanding vanity project to deflect attention from their multitude of failures that will achieve nothing. However, don’t fret, next week he’ll be writing in The National celebrating the SNP’s ground breaking project to legislate for the ending of child poverty and will the UK govt take note. Don’t care whether Catless is satisfied or not.

    Like

    • gavin November 9, 2017 / 5:45 pm

      With Scottish “journalism” you get exactly what you pay for.

      And without any context, no identified sources, no analysis etc etc…………………………………………

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Clydebuilt November 9, 2017 / 7:52 pm

    Just heard on radio Scotland . . . The new Scotland strip is blue top, white shorts and . . . RED socks.

    Like

  7. Ludo Thierry November 9, 2017 / 8:16 pm

    Hi John et al. Talking of Scottish print media – did anyone notice the double Scottish editorial redundancies at Newsquest yesterday? (see below from beeb website):

    The editors of The Herald and Evening Times newspapers are to leave their posts.
    Graeme Smith, who became The Herald’s 27th editor a year ago, and Graham Shields, Evening Times editor since April 2016, will quit on 22 December.

    Newsquest-owned Herald & Times Group said current editor-in-chief, Donald Martin, will take responsibility for editing both titles.

    Newquest Scotland’s 21 titles include the Sunday Herald and The National.

    The latest departures follow a fourth round of job cuts at the Glasgow-based titles, where dozens of reporters have been axed in recent years.

    In 2015, then editors of the Sunday Herald and Evening Times, Richard Walker and Tony Carlin also quit.

    It is understood that Newsquest has been carrying out a review of salaries and positions within the group.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ludo Thierry November 9, 2017 / 8:30 pm

    Now – were the (salaried) Director of the Scottish Newspaper Society to be given a column in the Scotsman might they not consider this (Scottish editorial redundancies) a development worth discussing in said column?
    Strangely enough the said Director of the said Scottish Newspaper Society did, indeed, have a column in the Scotsman. Did he discuss said editorial redundancies? He did not. What did he select for discussion? Well – naturally – he decided a smear-fest against Alex Salmond was much more pertinent. (Same as it ever was – see below);

    JOHN MCLELLAN

    As the director of the Scottish newspaper industry’s trade association, it is not usually my role to comment on the comings and goings in the boardrooms of the companies I am paid to represent, but in writing this weekly column about Scottish media matters it would be very hard to ignore the move to install ex-SNP leader Alex Salmond as chairman of Johnston Press.

    (Perhaps I should mention that John McLellan – in addition to being the (salaried) director of the Scottish Newspaper Society also happens to be a tory cooncillor in Edinburgh – oh – and a former editor of the Scotsman).

    Cooncillor ‘Scoop’ McLellan uses the column to attack Alex Salmond using straw man tactics (below):

    The Lie: “Saying the Yorkshire Post should put Yorkshire first only stated the blindingly obvious, as is the fact that being more pro-Scotland isn’t the same as being more pro-independence or SNP. Neither is much of a basis for a business plan.”

    What A.S. actually said: “The financial side is Christen’s speciality and he is the man with the plan.” (Christen = Christen Ager Hanssen – Norwegian activist shareholder in Johnston Press).

    The Lie: “Maybe he fancies following ex-Chancellor George Osborne, now editor of the London Evening Standard, with direct editorial intervention while doing lots of other jobs. The hours might be similar but editing is light years away from being the main scrutineer of business decisions taken by the executive directors.”

    What A.S. actually said: “In terms of journalism, which is my area of interest, the standards are depressing across the group. That is not the fault of the people who are there – it is because of all the people who have left.”

    He added: “The journalists will be free to do what they should be doing, which is to write the news and the facts. Editors will decide the editorial policies. As chairman, if we are successful, that’s not my job

    “But we’ll see if we can try and restore the paper to the respect in which it was held. That respect of having decent journalism and informed journalism is far more important than the editorial lines.”

    The Lie: “Further, to describe The Scotsman as “irrelevant” doesn’t square with his interest or the attention his involvement has created..”

    What A.S. actually said: The Scotsman could be restored as an “engine of thought and creativity for the nation”.

    Mr Salmond said: “Unfortunately, and for the first time in its 200-year history, the Scotsman has become largely irrelevant.
    “There are questions to answer obviously and it is up to shareholders to decide who has the right answers.”

    I suspect Christen Ager Hanssen might have a point when he, rather enigmatically, commented today: “Winter is coming, and the board of Johnston are still sunbathing, sipping pina coladas and tripping over their flip-flops on the beach.”

    Watch this space.

    Liked by 2 people

    • broadbield November 10, 2017 / 9:36 am

      Strange that they – like the (present) editor of the Hootsman and Scoop McLellan and all the others who see the end of a “free” press if AS gets the post of Chair – don’t see any problem with all the Tory supporting rags and could never imagine that nice Mr Murdoch ever exerting any influence over editorial policy.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Ludo Thierry November 9, 2017 / 9:10 pm

    From beeb Jockland website:

    Salmond hosts show on Russian broadcaster RT
    2 minutes ago
    From the section Scotland politics

    ‘Scottish’ msm – Gotcha!

    Cheers, ludo

    Like

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