MINISTERS face missing legal deprivation targets as it emerged that up to one in three children in Scotland are living in poverty.

New analysis has revealed that before the full roll out of the Scottish Child Payment, levels of child poverty were at their highest in Glasgow (32%), North Ayrshire (29%), Clackmannanshire (28.3%) and West Dunbartonshire (27.6%) and the lowest in East Renfrewshire (14.4%), East Dunbartonshire (14.9%), Shetland (15.4%) and Aberdeenshire (16%).

Across Scotland an average of 24% of Scotland’s children were in poverty - amounting to 250,000.

That remains well above the levels set out in the Child Poverty Act 2017, which sets mandatory targets of reducing child poverty to 18% by next year and 10 per cent by 2030.

Campaigners say that urgent action is still needed at every level of government to ensure that Scotland’s legal child poverty reduction targets are met despite the introduction of the Scottish Child Payment in February, 2021.

Scottish Government analysis suggests the payment will lift 50,000 out of poverty - providing a five percentage point reduction in the child poverty levels in 2023/24. That on its own, would not hit the 18% target.

Campaigners say there are uncertainties around hitting the 2023/24 target and they say that measures in place would mean they were coming "nowhere near" the 2030 mark.

They urge UK Government to scrap the two-child benefit limit imposed by the UK Government but that Scottish ministers should “do the right thing” and mitigate this “unfair and indiscriminate” policy.

The Herald:

Local authorities have also been urged to build on existing action to maximise family incomes and cut costs.

The research by Loughborough University, on behalf of the End Child Poverty coalition, says that levels of child poverty remained "unacceptably high" across Scotland and the rest of the UK.

The study which covers the period 2021/22, gives the best available estimates of child poverty at local authority level, after housing costs have been taken into account.

And anti-poverty campaigners are Scottish Government to invest further in the Scottish Child Payment, both to increase its value and to provide additional payments for families affected by the UK-wide two child limit, until it is abolished.

Scottish Child Payment was extended to include all eligible children until their 16th birthday and increased to £25 per child per week in November last year.

New figures show that 303,000 children were receiving the payment at the end of March.

The total amount of the benefit paid out since its February 2021 launch now stands at £248.6 million.

Members of the End Child Poverty coalition – whose members in Scotland include Child Poverty Action Group, Save the Children, Trussell Trust, Poverty Alliance, Oxfam Scotland, Close the Gap, Aberlour, Children 1st, Home-Start Scotland, Children in Scotland, Action for Children and One Parent Families Scotland – are calling on the UK Government to scrap the two child limit policy at source. John Dickie of the End Child Poverty coalition said further effort is needed to ensure the child poverty targets are met.

“These latest statistics are a stark reminder that child poverty remains unacceptably high across the UK, including in every local authority area of Scotland. It’s now absolutely vital that the UK Government scraps poverty creating policies like the two-child limit," he said.

The Herald:

“Here in Scotland, the Scottish Child Payment is already making a big difference to struggling families, but further effort is now needed to ensure Scotland’s upcoming child poverty targets are met.

“The First Minister has committed to used devolved powers to the ‘absolute maximum effect’, so his government must now do the right thing and go further to both increase the value of the Scottish child payment and put in place additional payments for families affected by the two-child limit.”

The study found that Scotland has lower levels of child poverty than England or Wales. Aross the UK, 4.2m children were living in poverty (29%).

However, campaigners in Scotland say that whilst progress is being made there can be "no room for complacency" if Scotland’s statutory child poverty targets, which were agreed by all of the Holyrood parties, are to be met. Social justice secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Tackling poverty and protecting people from harm is one of three critical missions for this government. This year and last we have allocated almost £3 billion to support policies to tackle poverty and the ongoing cost of living crisis. We have continually urged the UK Government to also take urgent action and match our ambitions to tackle poverty.

“We have a range of actions in our Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan and our five family payments could be worth over £10,000 by the time an eligible child turns six - over £8,000 more than families in England and Wales. This includes the Scottish Child Payment. In addition, we're making £84 million available to protect people from the damaging impact of UK Government welfare cuts including the bedroom tax and benefit cap, and have taken action on rent.

“We are taking action within limited powers and fixed budget but it is only with the powers of an independent nation that we can use all the levers other governments have to tackle poverty and inequalities.”