Claims Quarter Of Children Now Living In Poverty After 4% Increase Over Year

16 March 2017, 13:15 | Updated: 16 March 2017, 14:02

British money

More than a quarter of children are now living in poverty in Scotland.

Government statistics show 26% of children in Scotland - approximately 260,000 - were living in relative poverty in 2015/16 after housing costs.

It marks a growth of 4% from the previous year, an increase described by charities as ''devastating''.

Overall figures show more than one million people in Scotland (20%) were in relative poverty after they had paid their housing costs, up 2% from the previous year.

John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, challenged both the Scottish and UK governments to act quickly to address the problem.

''We cannot afford to lose sight of the tens of thousands of children across Scotland that lie behind these statistics and the devastating impact that poverty will too often have on their health, wellbeing and life chances,'' Mr Dickie said.

''These figures highlight just how important the Child Poverty Bill currently before the Scottish Parliament is. But legislation alone won't end poverty and the Scottish Government must now act quickly to implement the kind of concrete, practical policies that would make a significant dent in these figures.

''The latest modelling suggests that using new powers to top-up child benefit by £5 a week would, for example, reduce child poverty in Scotland by up to 14%, lifting around 30,000 children out of poverty.

''The UK Chancellor completely ignored the plight of low-income families in Scotland and across the UK in last week's Budget.

''Today's statistics are a stark reminder why he needs to end the freeze on family benefits and reverse cuts to Universal Credit for working families if the UK Government's rhetoric on supporting ''ordinary families'' is to mean anything.''

The National Statistics Publication for Scotland said: ''Estimates for 2015/16 signal relative child poverty increased before and after housing costs, but the combined low income and material deprivation rate for children has remained steady.

''This suggests that despite the indicative upward push on poverty rates, there has been no overall change in the ability of low-income households to afford necessities.''

Figures show that around four million children are living in poverty across the UK.

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: ''Too often when we think about poverty, it is about those who are out of work. However these statistics show that for too many families in Scotland work is no longer a route out of poverty.

''With 70% of children in poverty living in households where someone is in work, there is also a clear role for employers to play their part in tackling poverty.''