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Bill sets Scottish Government targets for reducing child poverty

10 February 2017

A bill imposing statutory targets on the Scottish Government to reduce child poverty in Scotland has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament.

Under the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill, Scottish ministers "must ensure that the child poverty targets are met in the financial year beginning with 1 April 2030".

The Government has to publish a three-year child poverty delivery plan by April 2018 covering the period to March 2021, and further plans for the following two five year periods up to March 2031, to set out its proposed measures to meet the targets. Consultation duties are set out in relation to the plans.

Four separate targets are set. One is that fewer than 10% of children live in "relative poverty", which means living in "a household whose equivalised net household income for a given financial year is less than 60% of median equivalised household income for the year" – meaning median net household income for the UK, adjusted to take into account variations in household size and composition. 

The other measures are:

  • fewer than 5% falling within "absolute poverty" – living in a household with income (measured in the same way) less than 60% of the median for the year beginning 1 April 2010, or other date that may be set;
  • fewer than 5% experiencing combined low income (less than 70% of the median) and material deprivation (not defined in the bill);
  • fewer than 5% experiencing "persistent poverty" – falling below the 60% threshold in three out of four calendar years.

Equalities Secretary Angela Constance commented: “It’s utterly unacceptable that one in five children in Scotland live in poverty and this bill sets out statutory targets to reduce and ultimately eradicate child poverty.

“Child poverty has been a systemic problem for decades. Tackling the immense challenge is an ambition all of Scotland – be that national and local government, health boards, businesses, the third sector or others – must work together to overcome.

“We’re absolutely committed to tackling the deep-rooted causes of child poverty, addressing the needs of those living in poverty today and preventing future generations from those circumstances." 

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