CHILD poverty levels in Scotland are set to rise after a decade of steady falls which saw progress north of the Border outstrip the rest of the UK, a report has warned.
The level of child poverty fell 10 per cent in the ten years to 2011-12, twice the level of decrease in England.
But the impact of benefit cuts coupled with a high level of poverty among unemployed families, including disabled and lone parents, remains particularly severe, a report by Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has found.
The Scottish Government has claimed up to 100,000 children could be plunged into poverty by 2020 under Westminster polices such as the overhaul of the welfare system, but said this could be eradicated completely under independence.
Anti-poverty campaigners are now calling on all sides in the independence debate to show how they will tackle the issue regardless of the outcome in the referendum.
John Dickie, of the Child Poverty Action Group, said: “This report highlights the need to focus support on families who are unable to work, as well as those in work.
“The challenge now for all sides in the independence debate is to help build the public support and political will needed to invest in childcare and social security.”
Further help for children hinges on tackling impoverished workless families, where poverty levels remain high at 54 per cent, compared with 10 per cent for children in working families.
This poses a growing challenge in Scotland among people with ill-health and disabilities, caring duties and those with a lack of skills, many of whom will be hit by cuts to the benefits system.
Jim McCormick, Scotland adviser to JRF, said: “Regardless of the referendum outcome, tackling child poverty must be a priority for governments in Holyrood and Westminster.”
A spokeswoman for the Department for Work & Pensions said the benefits overhaul and shift to the single universal credit will make 300,000 households better off in Scotland.
She added: “The government remains committed to eradicating child poverty, but we want to take a new approach by tackling the root causes, including worklessness, educational failure and family breakdown.
“Work remains the best route out of poverty.”