Child poverty set to increase
Full impact of UK Government welfare reforms yet to take effect
The Deputy First Minister has welcomed official poverty statistics published today that show that the number of children living in relative poverty has fallen in Scotland between 2009/10 and 2011/12. However, she warned that there is no room for complacency in light of estimates suggesting that more than 50,000 children are at risk of being pushed into poverty in Scotland by 2020.
She pointed out that the figures do not take into account the full impact of the UK Government’s welfare reforms. The figures also show a fall in average household earnings in Scotland over two years from £461 per week to £436.
Ms Sturgeon said:
“These figures released today - while welcome - present a complex picture in terms of understanding child poverty in Scotland.
“While the number of children in poverty fell in 2011/12 compared to the previous year, this decrease was the result of an overall drop in average household incomes across the UK.
“We know that the UK Government’s welfare reforms are already having a significant impact on Scotland’s children, with further damaging changes still to take effect. These figures take into account the environment in 2011/12, but a number of changes have been made since then.
“These measures include changes to eligibility for child tax credits and working tax credits, which could, on average, mean that households will become around £700 per year worse off.
“While we must continue to do everything we can with the powers and resources we have, there is no doubt that a much greater ability to tackle the scandal of child poverty will be one of the big prizes of independence. This will of course take time, and no one is suggesting it will be easy.
“In an independent Scotland, we could take welfare decisions that would ensure fair and decent support for people. Over time we could create a system that would encourage those who can - and should work - into work, but also support people who are unable to work, allowing them to play a full and active part in society, and help to tackle poverty where it exists.
“Only with access to our own resources and the ability to join up policy across devolved and reserved areas, can we make the substantial difference we need to and tackle child poverty for good."
A recent Institute of Fiscal Studies report projected that 50,000 more children may be in poverty by 2020.
Link to statistics