A CLASSROOM of children will enter poverty in Scotland each day for the next five years if urgent action is not taken to boost benefits, a think tank has warned.

The independent think-tank Institute for Public Policy Research Scotland, with the social policy charity Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has called on the Scottish Government to implement it's "income supplement" much sooner than a proposed date of 2022 to help curb the trend.

Without urgent action to bring in the supplement, the Scottish Government would fail to meet its targets for reducing child poverty in Scotland - and instead levels would rise dramatically, they say.

Scottish Government poverty statistics in April show that child poverty has crept up, with an estimated 240,000 children now living in poverty in Scotland - representing just under a quarter of all children.

The calculation is based on the number of children living in households where income after housing costs is below 60% of the UK median – known as “relative poverty”.

The Scottish Government which has a stated commitment to eradicating child poverty has four targets for cutting child poverty in Scotland by 2030. These are that relative child poverty should be reduced to 18% by 2023-24 and to 10% by 2030-31. At 24% in 2017-18, relative child poverty currently sits well above the target.

But the new analysis by IPPR Scotland shows that unless the income supplement plans are brought forward early, relative child poverty could actually increase by 50,000 children between 2017/18, when the Scottish Parliament set its poverty targets, and 2023/24.

The Herald:

It estimates the cost of meeting the relative child poverty target for 2030-31 at £3.8 billion per year.

Russell Gunson, director of the IPPR Scotland said the child poverty increase equates 25 children a day, 170 more children each week and over 750 more children each month entering poverty than leaving poverty in Scotland.

"It’s not right that almost a quarter of children in Scotland are locked into poverty. But we know what to do to reduce child poverty in Scotland. We’ve done it before and we can do it again," he said.

“Much of the increases in poverty in Scotland come from UK benefit cuts and a UK economy that has failed to maintain, let alone improve living standards. But here in Scotland, there’s more we can do. Every day, every week and every month of delay matters.

”The Scottish Government has promised to introduce an income supplement as part of wider plans to help to reduce child poverty. This is a golden opportunity to help tens of thousands of children escape poverty in Scotland. But given increasing child poverty rates we want to see urgent action to make a start earlier than planned.

READ MORE: Far more spending needed to cut Scots child poverty

“We believe the Scottish Government can and should bring forward plans for an income supplement before the end of this parliament, and to consider an interim payment before this.”

The Herald:

A Scottish Government said: “Our first Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, published last year, outlines the actions to be taken between 2018-22 – including working towards the development of a new income supplement. We have been doing just that and have involved stakeholders, including IPPR, in that work. A one year progress report will be given to Parliament in June.”

The report comes after the Poverty and Inequality Commission told SNP ministers they will have to spend “considerably more” if they are to hit legal targets on cutting child poverty.

In its report on the 2019-20 Scottish budget, the commission suggested 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.

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