The data in the report shows that around a quarter of children in Scotland are living in relative poverty, and over half of children (53%) were in poverty at least once over a 12-year period. Worryingly, the report notes the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on poverty and inequality has not yet been seen, and it is clear that families on low incomes are likely to have been hit the hardest. The cost of living is rising. These conditions will make reaching the child poverty targets even more challenging.
Commenting on the publication, RCPCH Officer for Scotland, Dr Mairi Stark, said:
The fact that one in every four children in Scotland is living in poverty is devastating. As highlighted in the data from Poverty and Inequality Commission, these figures will only get worse as we see the full impact of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis.
In the State of Child Health 2020 report, RCPCH called on the Scottish Government to ensure the Child Poverty Act targets be appropriately resourced and funded so that they would be met on time. As noted in the Poverty and Inequality Commission advice, while the Scottish Government has taken positive actions such as doubling the Scottish Child Payment, more work will be necessary to achieve child poverty targets. This can only be achieved if the Scottish Government uses all available levers and delivers at a much greater pace and scale.
Improving services across Scotland is crucial to tackling inequality and poverty. Children and young people need to have access to all the building blocks that will help them be healthy and well.