Child poverty has risen in nearly every Scottish local authority since 2014/15, according to research published today by the End Child Poverty coalition.

The new data shows the scale of the challenge Scottish and local government if commitments to end child poverty in Scotland are to be met. 

The research, by Loughborough University, shows that levels of child poverty in Scotland ranged from one in  seven children in the Shetland Islands to nearly one in three in Glasgow, once housing costs are taken into account.

Campaigners have highlighted that the impact of poverty on children is well documented with children from low income families more likely to experience worse physical and mental health; do less well in school; and have fewer opportunities in the future.

They say there can be no room for complacency in Scotland.

The End Child Poverty coalition is now calling on the UK Government to recognise the scale of the problem and its impact on children’s lives, and have urged UK Ministers to set out an ambitious plan to use Westminster powers to tackle child poverty across the UK.

They have also asked the Holyrood government to build on the Scottish child poverty delivery plan already in place.

A new Scottish child payment which will see eligible children under six entitled to £10 per week additional support from February 2021 has been welcomed by the coalition, with all under 16s benefitting by the end of 2022.

However, they stressed that just to stop child poverty rising will require a doubling in the value of the new payment, and that families need urgent cash support now to bridge the gap until it’s rolled out.

The report is based on data published by the Department for Work and Pensions in March 2020, and on estimates of the effect of housing costs on poverty rates produced by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, based on survey evidence.

Earlier this year, Boris Johnson was rebuked by The Statistics Authority for his repeated misuse of child poverty statistics.

The statistics watchdog upheld a complaint from the End Child Poverty coalition judging that on three separate occasions his statements on child poverty were "incorrect".

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Speaking on behalf of members of End Child Poverty in Scotland, John Dickie, called for Boris Johnson to "face up" to the facts.

He said: “The Prime Minister must urgently face up to the true extent of child poverty across the UK rather than resorting to his own inaccurate statistics.

"An ambitious plan to put this shameful situation right would be transformational for millions of children in Scotland and across the UK.

"As a matter of urgency we are calling on the Chancellor not to go ahead with planned cuts to Universal Credit which would see families lose out on £1000 a year. Given today’s data, this cut is unconscionable."

Mr Dickie also called for more action from government in Scotland.

He added: “Here in Scotland the Holyrood government’s child poverty delivery plan and prioritisation of the new Scottish child payment are hugely welcome.

"But these new figures highlight the importance of keeping housing costs affordable, the importance of reviewing the value of the Scottish child payment and the urgent need to use existing payment mechanisms, like local authority school clothing grants, to provide extra financial support to families right now.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said:

“Scotland is the only part of the UK tackling child poverty head on, by prioritising the introduction of our brand new Scottish Child Payment. This benefit of £10 per week per eligible child under six will open for applications in November with payments beginning in February.

“The Scottish Child Payment together with Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods will provide over £5,200 of financial support for families by the time their first child turns six. For second and subsequent children this will provide over £4,900.

“As part of our £350 million community funding package to support those most in need during the pandemic, we have invested over £120 million in supporting people with food, including ensuring free school meal provision over the summer, and increased support for housing. In addition we paid carers in receipt of Carer’s Allowance a further supplement this year.

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“And since 2007 have delivered almost 96,000 affordable homes and have outlined plans to invest over £2.8 billion in capital, over 5 years, to deliver more affordable and social homes across Scotland.

“We have continually called on the UK Government to reverse welfare cuts which are hitting harder than ever - including the benefit cap, bedroom tax, and two child limit, as well as making fundamental alterations to Universal Credit and maintaining the recent £20 rise which is imperative if we are to stop people being pushed into poverty.”

End Child Poverty is calling for an urgent UK Government plan to end child poverty including the uprating of housing assistance in line with inflation and retaining the £20 uplift in Universal Credit introduced at the start of the pandemic.

The coalition has also called for the UK Government to invest in all children with an increase to child benefit, and the benefit cap and the two-child limit on benefits to be ended. 

One Parent Families Scotland have backed the calls.

Director Satwat Rehman said: “The pre-pandemic statistics published today demonstrate the devastating impacts of an austerity agenda. In the areas where our local services work, child poverty levels range from one in five children in Edinburgh to nearly one in three in Glasgow.

“It’s no coincidence that Glasgow, the area with the highest rate of child poverty, is the area with the highest proportion of single parent families in Scotland. The combination of balancing the responsibility for childcare and household earnings alone while social security has been cut means many single parent families have been pushed to the brink.

“The UK Government did the right thing in raising Universal Credit during the pandemic. It can do so again by making the uplift permanent and by listening to low-income families about the other reforms which are urgently needed to Universal Credit.

“At the same time, the Scottish Government can take action to offer further support to families, for example by increasing the value of the Scottish Child Payment, particularly for groups more at risk of poverty, and by reducing the cost of the school day by increasing school clothing grants.

“Children are being plunged into poverty by a badly broken system. If there was ever a time to fix it, it’s now."

A DWP spokesperson said: “There are 100,000 fewer children living in absolute poverty than in 2009/10 and making sure every child gets the best start in life is central to our efforts to level up opportunity across the country.

“We have already taken significant steps to do this by raising the living wage, ending the benefit freeze and injecting more than £9.3 billion into the welfare system to help those in most need.

“Scotland has significant welfare powers and can top-up existing benefits, pay discretionary payments and create entirely new benefits altogether.”

The full report ‘Local indicators of child poverty after housing costs, 2018/19’, as well as tables with local data, are available at