SNP ministers will have to spend “considerably more” if they are to hit legal targets on cutting child poverty, their own advisers have warned.

In its report on the 2019-20 Scottish budget, the Poverty and Inequality Commission said ministers should consider raising more in taxes to address the problem.

The Commission also criticised the opaque funding of current work to tackle poverty, saying it had been “hindered by the lack of transparency” in the government’s figures.

“We found it to be very difficult to calculate how much this Budget is spending on addressing poverty and inequality,” it said.

Around 240,000 children, or 24%, live in relative poverty in Scotland, defined as a household surviving on less than 60% of median income.

The target is cutting child poverty to 10% by 2030, but recent research suggested the problem is getting worse instead of better, with 290,000, or 29%, of Scots children living in relative poverty as soon as 2022-23.

The Commission said: “If the Scottish Government is to have any chance of tackling poverty effectively and meeting its statutory targets on child poverty, it will need to take sustained action and invest considerably more than current levels.

“Future levels of funding must meet the scale of the challenge.”

It acknowledged “money remains tight” and the government had “difficult decisions” to make on funding, but urged it to “consider the opportunities it has to raise revenue through taxes”.

It recommended “more funding directly targeted at tackling poverty and inequality”, with a focus on social security, work, earnings and reducing housing costs as the most effective.

The Scottish Government has promised a new targeted top up benefit for the poorest families by 2022, rejecting Labour calls to add an extra £5 a week to child benefit.

John Dickie, Director of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said the report exposed a “massive gap” between the government’s ambitions and the resources it allocated.

He said: “Investment to date in Best Start Grants, increases to school clothing grants, additional employability support for parents and extended early years childcare support are all really welcome, but they are nowhere near sufficient to make the kinds of impact on child poverty needed to meet the 2030 target of less than 10% of our children living in poverty.”

He said the current 2022 timetable for a new income supplement lacked urgency.

“Three budgets have now passed since the Scottish Parliament got the social security powers it needs to directly boost family incomes, yet in that time tens of thousands more children have been pushed into poverty as a result of UK tax and benefit policies.

“Families locked in poverty now can’t wait until 2022 for ministers to back their commitments with the investment needed to free children from the damage that poverty wreaks.”

Labour MSP Elaine Smith MSP said: “This report should be a stark wake up call to the SNP that their current level of spending to tackle poverty is falling well short of what is needed.

“The lack of ambition from Nicola Sturgeon and her Government is failing far too many struggling families, who need money in their pockets now.

“That’s why Scottish Labour wants to see an end to the two-child cap in tax credits and a £5 per week increase to Child Benefit, which would reduce some of the financial pressure on families and lift 30,000 children out of poverty.

“We already have the power to take these actions now, and make a difference to thousands of people across the country.”

Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said: “The Scottish budget must be a key lever for tackling poverty and inequality but, right now, the Commission is clear that we’re failing to make it count. If we really want a fairer and more equal country, we need a serious discussion about the way that government raises and spends its money, because the status quo is not working.

“It is clear that plans for a new income supplement in 2022 are simply too far away for families who need cash in their pockets today. Warm words will not make a difference to people who cannot put food on the table.”

Nina Ballantyne, policy manager at Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “There is no single government policy that can solve poverty, but we support the Commission’s call for a coordinated approach backed up by the right levels of investment.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The 2019-20 Scottish Budget continues our strong investment in building a fairer and more prosperous Scotland, despite our resource budget being reduced by almost £2 billion in real terms since 2010-11 due to UK Government cuts.

“We are investing in truly transformational policies such as our commitment to deliver 50,000 affordable homes in this Parliamentary term, backed by record investment of £825 million, an extra £210 million of resource and £175 million of capital to support our expansion of funded Early Learning and Childcare to 1,140 hours by August 2020 and £435 in direct assistance through social security measures. All measures to help support those on low incomes and put money directly in the pockets of families in need.

“We are clear that in order to reach our ambitious child poverty targets we will require to make substantial new investment, and we have committed to introducing a new Income Supplement which will put money directly in the pockets of families in need.”