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Child poverty targets should be strengthened, MSPs believe

22 May 2017

Proposed statutory targets for reducing child poverty in Scotland are too long range, according to a report published today by the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee.

In their stage 1 report on the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill, the MSPs recommend interim targets should be put in place in order to create the sense of urgency and focus needed to eradicate child poverty. 

The bill sets four income based targets against which child poverty in Scotland will be measured, requiring publication of a three-year and then successive five-year delivery plans towards meeting the targets by financial year 2030-31 (click here for report). The committee welcomes the reintroduction of statutory targets, but is concerned that the proposed targets are too distant.

It also calls for greater detail about the delivery plans. These should include:

  • full use of Scottish social security powers;
  • provision of information, advice and assistance to parents and carers in relation to welfare rights and income maximisation;
  • provision of suitable and affordable housing;
  • availability of childcare; and
  • facilitation of employment for parents and carers.

The report also calls for stronger independent scrutiny arrangements to ensure this and future Governments are held to account on meeting the child poverty targets. For that reason the committee wants to see a statutory commission to scrutinise ministers’ delivery and progress.

Convener Sandra White MSP commented: “There is simply no room for child poverty in a modern Scotland, so any legislation aimed at tackling this is to be applauded for its ambition. The bill before us contains challenging targets for measuring child poverty but we believe that these targets do not go far enough.

“The introduction of interim targets would send a much louder message about the importance that is placed on tackling child poverty and they would create a sense of urgency which is needed if we are to really make a difference.

“Of course, targets alone cannot eradicate child poverty. It is the delivery plans and progress reports that will detail the action being taken and how effective this action is. We need more information about the format and shape of these plans.”

Click here to access the committee's report.

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