Family and child poverty

Action on child poverty is central to Scottish Government policies aimed at addressing health inequalities and improving children’s life chances. In 2014/15 22% of all children in Scotland (220,000) were living in relative poverty, unchanged from the previous year. Underneath this national picture there are huge regional and local variations. For example, in 2013, 33% of children in Glasgow (more than 36,000) were living in poverty and in some areas of the city it was as high as 48% of children. 

Child poverty rates in Scotland are predicted to rise by 2020/21 as a result of the UK government’s austerity and welfare reform measures, resulting in an additional 50,000 children in Scotland living in poverty. Therefore, action to address child poverty is crucial in order to avoid widening inequalities in children’s health, wellbeing and life chances. 

The Child Poverty Strategy for Scotland (2014-2017) highlights the importance of maximising household income as a vital measure to improve children’s outcomes.

A current example of a type of approach to tackle child poverty through income maximisation is the Healthier, Wealthier Children (HWC) project. Set up in October 2010 and operating across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC), an area that covers almost a quarter of the Scottish population, the HWC project involves NHS, local authorities and voluntary sector partners.

A key aim is to maximise the income of pregnant women and families with young children at risk of or experiencing poverty. This is supported by referral pathways involving health and money/welfare advice services. A range of resources are available on the project website.

We have played a central role in generating evidence on the effectiveness of the HWC project through an in-depth evaluation in 2012 of the impact  of HWC on families, on early years health and money advice staff and on policy, and a follow up evaluation in 2013 that focussed on how efforts to tackle child poverty were being embedded across health and money advice services. 

Following on from the evaluation reports, the project continues to be monitored through NHSGGC reporting systems. The latest report up until August 2016 shows that since the launch in October 2010 there were nearly 11,300 referrals to advice services that resulted in pregnant women and families accessing around £11.9 million in financial gains.

Wider, ongoing and future work 

We continue to be involved in other areas of work to tackle child poverty. This includes membership of Glasgow’s Poverty Leadership Panel, a multi-agency group that supports the development and progress of a city-wide poverty action plan. The GCPH activities include developing a monitoring framework to measure success of planned actions and membership of the child poverty sub group. 

The GCPH also supports the Early Warning System which is a framework developed by Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland to track how welfare changes are affecting the wellbeing of children, their families and the communities and services that support them.

In Glasgow four out of ten families with children are lone parent families, which is the highest local authority rate in Scotland and expected to rise over the next 25 years. Many experience a range of health, social and economic inequalities. Moreover, with the majority of lone parents in the city not in paid work, welfare changes are having an impact, including among those caring for young children.

Recognising these welfare changes, from 2012 onwards we have been involved in the development of networks and alliances that have resulted in the production of a range of outputs. Access further information on our lone parents research.

We have been involved in the establishment of the Glasgow Lone Parent Development Project which is hosted by One Parent Families Scotland and supported by NHS, council and housing partners. The project aims to improve the way in which the city’s services ‘serve’ single parents and to increase collaboration across relevant public, voluntary and private sector providers.    

From 2014 onwards we have also been involved with the Cost of the School Day (CSD) initiative which aims to identify and tackle barriers throughout the school day that prevent children from low income families from fully taking part. Led by CPAG in Scotland, other partners include Glasgow’s Education Services and the city’s Health and Social Care Partnership. The initiative has links to the Poverty Leadership Panel through the child poverty sub group. 

Further resources 

Other related resources available include: 

A recent GCPH report that provides a synthesis of our learning about what factors influence the health of babies, children and young people and how improving circumstances during this life stage can help improve health and tackle health inequalities.

Understanding Glasgow provides data on a range of important child health indicators that includes poverty, learning, lifestyle and safety. The site includes data at Glasgow neighbourhood, local authority and Scottish and English city levels. 

For further information on the range of work being progressed under the poverty, disadvantage and the economy theme, contact James Egan.