Family and child poverty

Tackling child and family poverty is central to addressing health inequalities and improving children’s life chances.  

In 2018, 1 in 5 children were living in relative poverty in Scotland. Recent figures for Glasgow are more stark with more than 1 in 3 (37,000 children) living in poverty in 2017, rising to 41% in some neighbourhoods. Scotland’s child poverty rates are predicted to steadily increase with 50,000 more children living in poverty by 2020/21, as a result of the UK government’s austerity and welfare reform measures. Download the infographic (PDF).Child poverty - an issue that affects us all infographic. If you require a transcript or an accessible version please email

The new Child Poverty (Scotland) Act has four ambitious targets for reducing child poverty which includes reducing the number of children living in relative poverty to less than 1-in-10 by 2030. A new national delivery plan to tackle child poverty between 2018 and 2022 contains many actions to help achieve the targets. All local authorities and relevant Health Boards across Scotland will now be required to submit reports setting out the measures they are taking to reduce child poverty and contribute towards achieving the targets.  

Our role

We will continue to play an active role in generating evidence on poverty and potential actions to reduce it, and supporting initiatives that contribute towards the new national delivery plan actions. Some existing initiatives that we continue to support include: 

The Healthier, Wealthier Children (HWC) project, which is an NHS partnership approach to maximise income for pregnant women and families experiencing, or at risk of, child poverty. The HWC project continues to operate across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC). Important learning was captured through evaluations we undertook in 2012 and 2013. The project’s outcomes continue to to be monitored by NHSGGC. The latest data up until September 2019 shows that since the project launch in October 2010, there were over 23,000 referrals to money advice services. This resulted in more than £32.6 million in financial gains for families. The national delivery plan recognises the value of HWC and commits to investing additional two-year funding to support money advice services in health settings across Scotland.  

Cost of the School Day (CSD) and Cost of the School Holidays (CSH), both led by the Child Poverty Action Group (Scotland), are educational projects that we have supported from the outset. CSD was led by the Child Poverty Action Group and Glasgow City Council Education services and involved children, parents and staff identifying cost barriers to full participation in the school day experienced by low income families, and taking practical steps to remove them. CSH showed that holidays can be challenging for low-income families whose children are no longer getting free school meals, and may lead to family crisis and a widening of the attainment gap. 

Some of the important learning from both projects are evident in the new national child poverty delivery plan. The plan outlines actions that have been taken to implement a new minimum payment for the School Clothing Grant across Scotland, and investment of £1 million over two years to address food insecurity during the school holidays.   

We also continue to support the Children’s Neighbourhood Scotland project in Bridgeton and Dalmarnock which aims to develop services to reduce poverty, extend power within communities, and improve outcomes for children and young people. The programme is being extended into another urban centre, a small town and a rural community with Scottish Government investment of £2 million.  

To meet the 2030 targets set out in the Child Poverty Act, it is vital that today’s young people living in poverty do not move on to become parents living in poverty  by 2030. Our recent study of young carers – a priority group – found that almost 1-in-8 secondary pupils in Glasgow reported providing care to someone in the family. A third stated no one knew about it. Compared with other pupils, they were more likely to receive free school meals, live with a lone parent, report poorer health, and were less likely to see themselves entering college or university. 

Two new measures could help towards ensuring that young carers do not enter adulthood as poor parents. Scottish local authorities and health boards are now required to offer an assessment to young carers and to provide support based on identified needs. From October 2019, young carers aged 16 to 18 can also apply for  a new grant worth £300 a year. Therefore, it is important that all young carers are identified and give the necessary support to achieve their full potential.  

More details of our other related work are described in our submission to the Scottish Parliament inquiry into poverty and educational attainment

Wider, ongoing and future work

We will continue to be involved with the following:

Further resources 

Other related resources available include: 

  • Lone parent families were the main beneficiaries of the Healthier, Wealthier Children project, and remain more likely to experience poverty compared to other households. From 2013 onwards, we worked with NHS, council, third sector, housing and academic partners to produce a series of outputs to explore the impacts of welfare changes on lone parents with young children.
  • Understanding Glasgow which 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 action on inequalities across the life course theme, please contact James Egan 

Related topic: Money and work