Family and child poverty

In 2015/16, more than 1-in-4 (26%) children were living in relative poverty in Scotland. Recent figures for Glasgow are more stark with over 34% (more than 36,000 children) living in poverty in 2017, rising to 59% in some parts of the city. 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.Child poverty - an issue that affects us all infographic 

Tackling child poverty is central to addressing health inequalities and improving children’s life chances. The new Child Poverty (Scotland) Act has four ambitious targets up to 2030, which includes reducing child poverty levels to less than 1-in-10 children living in relative poverty. A new national delivery plan covering the period 2018-22 contains many actions to help achieve the four targets. Local authorities and relevant Health Boards will now be required to submit annual reports describing measures that contribute towards achieving the targets.  

Our role

The GCPH will continue to play an active role in undertaking research 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, across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC). Important evaluation learning was captured through work undertaken by the GCPH in 2012 and 2013. Currently monitored by NHSGGC, data up until January 2018 shows that since the launch in October 2010, there have been 15,238 referrals to money advice services that have resulted in £17.6 million in gains for families. The national delivery plan recognises the value of HWC and contains an action to invest additional two-year funding to support advice services in health settings across Scotland for families at risk of or experiencing poverty. 

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 the GCPH has supported from the outset. CSD involved children, parents and staff identifying cost barriers and taking practical steps to remove them. CSH showed that holidays can be difficult for low-income families and may lead to the attainment gap being widened. Learning from both projects are evident in the new delivery plan with actions to ensure a new minimum payment for the School Clothing Grant across Scotland, investment to address food insecurity during holidays, and childcare in the holidays.  

We 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. 

Most lone parent families are headed by women and the GCPH welcomes the acknowledgment of lone parents as one of the ‘priority families’ at high risk of poverty in the delivery plan. Lone parents were key beneficiaries of the HWC project and Glasgow has the highest proportion of any Scottish local authority. Since 2013, we have worked with others to produce outputs to support agencies engaging with lone parents. A recent evaluation of the Glasgow Lone Parent Project, which was set up to improve the way mainstream services support parents, identified key successes. The project contributed towards families automatically receiving a school clothing grant, instead of having to apply, tackling stigma and ensuring parents’ voices influenced mainstream work. 

To meet the 2030 child poverty targets, it is important that young people living in poverty now do not become poor parents by 2030. A recent GCPH 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 they do not become poor parents in 2030. 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 late 2019 onwards, young carers aged 16 to 18 may also be eligible to a new grant worth £300 a year. 

More details of other related work undertaken by the GCPH are described in a recent submission to the Scottish Parliament inquiry into poverty and educational attainment. 

Wider, ongoing and future work

The GCPH will continue to be involved with the following:

  • Glasgow city’s Poverty Leadership Panel and Child Poverty sub group.   
  • The Early Warning System developed by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland to track the impact of welfare changes on the wellbeing of children, their families and the communities and services that support them.

Further resources 

Other related resources available include: 

  • 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 Fiona Crawford or James Egan 

Related topic: Money and work