Child poverty remains a persistent and prevalent issue across Scotland, with the latest official figures revealing one in five youngsters are living in trying economic circumstances.
The issue affects more than 220,000 Scots under the age of 16, according to research covering 2014/15 and published today by the Scottish Government.
A coalition of children’s charities has now called on Holyrood to introduce legislation during the current parliamentary session to “identify and tackle child poverty in Scotland”.
Members of the End Child Poverty (ECP) are urging the Scottish Government to set “an ambitious but achievable target” for the eradication of child poverty in Scotland.
The call comes after the UK Government dismantled the UK Child Poverty Act 2010, which scrapped a target to eradicate child poverty by 2020.
ECP members are now calling on Holyrood to introduce a child poverty act for Scotland as the bedrock of a new approach to tackling the issue.
“These figures show that child poverty remains a persistent problem for far too many children in Scotland,” said Satwat Rehman, director of One Parent Families Scotland and a member of ECP.
“The scrapping of the Child Poverty Act represented a backward step in efforts to tackle child poverty. We welcome the fact the Scottish Government opposed this and would now urge them to bring forward legislation in this parliament that re-establishes a target to eradicate child poverty and which will give a clear purpose to other measures and strategies aimed at poverty reduction.”
READ MORE: Sir Tom Hunter: Child poverty is a disgrace
The report found that while total numbers of those in child poverty remains high, material deprivation decreased in 2014/15 thanks to a combination of more parents finding work and low inflation meaning household income among the poorest families increased.
There was also a decline in the number of children living in workless families - but the report’s authors said this was largely due to more lone parents finding part-time employment.
Communities secretary Angela Constance said: “I will be looking closely in the coming weeks at all the options available to me before bringing forward proposals on a Scottish approach to tackling child poverty.”
She added: “If we needed further proof of the damaging impact of UK Government welfare reforms, today’s figures do that. It is clear the approach the UK Government is taking to welfare reform is undermining the work we are doing to try and lift people out of poverty.”
“I want to see a fairer future for families across Scotland. And I don’t want to see children living in poverty. I will be looking closely in the coming weeks at all the options available to me to tackle this issue. And I will be doing all I can to stand up for those who need it the most and fight against further damaging UK welfare changes.”