Child Poverty (Scotland) Act passed by the Scottish Government

The Scottish Parliament has passed legislation making Scotland the only part of the UK with statutory targets to cut child poverty. The Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill was back unanimously by MSPs, and requires Scottish ministers to ensure that by 2030 less than 10 per cent of children are in relative poverty, defined as those living in a home earning below 60 per cent of the current median UK household income.

Further targets include less than 5 per cent of child living in absolute poverty, meaning households earning below 60 per cent of the 2010/11 national median income, less than 5 per cent of children to be assessed as being in combined low income and material deprivation and less than 5 per cent in persistent poverty.

Commenting on the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act, passed by the Scottish Parliament yesterday, Professor Steve Turner, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Officer for Scotland, said:

“In Scotland today, one child in four lives in poverty. In 2011, this figure was one in five. The devastating impact of deprivation on child health and wellbeing cannot be overstated and so tangible, target-driven measures are a very welcome step towards tackling this desperate problem. To wait until 2030 though for the rate of children living in relative poverty to fall below 10% will feel like very slow progress to each and every one of those children affected and so this target should be an absolute minimum, with faster progress sought at every opportunity.

“One way to limit the effects of poverty on child health would be to expand health visitor numbers and to fully roll-out the Family Nurse Partnership, both of which were announced in the government's Programme for Scotland in September of this year, and we call for these measures to be introduced without delay.”