SCOTTISH ministers have failed to take “decisive steps” to eradicate child poverty, a new report has claimed – with almost one in four youngsters living in families struggling to make ends meet.

The independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) insisted that while the Scottish Government had "made some progress towards loosening poverty's grip", it has not succeeded in ushering through transformational change.

It said an average of 230,000 Scottish children were living in relative poverty each year between 2014/15 and 2016/17.

But Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said the Scottish Government was tackling the issue with “one hand tied behind our back” due to UK welfare cuts.

Welcoming the report, she said taking the right action now would provide "the chance to reduce child poverty to the lowest levels ever in Scotland’s history and that is a future all of us want".

Ministers previously set a target of just one in 10 Scottish children living in relative poverty – and 5% in absolute poverty – by 2030.

But the JRF said there needed to be better links between poverty and labour market strategies, adding that without this "it is questionable whether the Scottish Government will be able to reach its child poverty targets".

Its report, Poverty in Scotland 2018, also demanded changes to the UK Government's Universal Credit benefit system.

It stated: "In Scotland, almost a quarter of a million children are in poverty, with their families facing impossible decisions such as whether to pay the rent, heat their home or put food on the table.

"There is consensus across the Scottish Parliament that this situation will be ended within a generation, but it will require renewed action by government, employers, landlords and providers of key goods and services."

It continued: "The Scottish Government has made some progress towards loosening poverty's grip, but has not taken the decisive steps needed to make the transformational change required for Scotland's children."

Child poverty across Scotland fell in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but since 2010 that trend had been reversed "mainly due to UK Government-imposed social security cuts", the JRF said.

Of the 230,000 children living in poverty, 90,000 were in a family where someone – usually an adult – is disabled or has a medical condition that limits what they can do.

Meanwhile 30,000 youngsters were living in a family where one adult – usually the mother – was not in work, with a further 30,000 children in single parent households also affected.

The JRF said forthcoming strategies from the SNP Government to help more disabled people into work and close the gender pay gap “could make a crucial difference”.