Major report on child poverty delayed indefinitely

The Scottish Government has been accused of “burying bad news” after announcing an indefinite delay to the publication of a major report into child poverty in Scotland.
A report on child poverty has been delayed as a result of coronavirus.A report on child poverty has been delayed as a result of coronavirus.
A report on child poverty has been delayed as a result of coronavirus.

Labour and Conservative MSPs lined up to condemn the decision not to publish the progress report at the end of the month, which the government said was as a result of coronavirus pandemic being prioritised.

It’s the second major piece of work the Scottish Government has postponed in the last month, as a review into the secondary school education system has also been put back unti 2021.

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The child poverty annual report was introduced as part of legislation, the Child Poverty Act 2017, to monitor the government’s progress towards a range of targets designed to reduce child poverty. Currently, nearly one in four Scottish children live in poverty, with 65 per cent of all children in poverty living in households with at least one person in work.

There have also been growing concerns about the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and a potential rise in unemployment on levels of child poverty in Scotland.

Scottish Labour’s communities spokesperson Pauline McNeill, said the delay to publish the “crucial report was entirely unacceptable” and “cast doubt” on the “government’s claim to treat child poverty as a priority”.

She added: “The continued existence of child poverty in Scotland should shame us all and the economic impact of this pandemic will only make matters worse for too many families. By failing to publish this report the Scottish Government is sending a clear message to the people of Scotland: tackling child poverty is not a priority.”

The Scottish Conservatives questioned the need for the delay and demanded a new publication date is announced immediately. Jamie Greene, the party’s education spokesperson said: “This assessment is an important benchmarking exercise to ensure that the Scottish Government is making progress towards the ambitious targets the Child Poverty Act set out.

“Given the current economic situation, monitoring the trajectory of child poverty could not be more important. We have serious concerns that vulnerable children are being left behind in this crisis as a result of the economic downturn, the lack of formal education and for some, worrying domestic situations.

“We already know that many vulnerable children are falling through the cracks in support and monitoring with only one per cent of all children attending educational hubs, a worryingly low statistic.

“While some timescale alteration might have been understandable an indefinite delay is utterly unreasonable. The SNP Government must declare a new publication date for this report immediately, or it looks increasingly like the Scottish Government is simply burying bad news.”

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The decision to delay the report was revealed in a written response to a question lodged by SNP MSP Bob Doris, asking for the publication date.

Communities minister Aileen Campbell replied: “Due to the unprecedented impact of coronavirus we have made the difficult decision to delay preparation and publication of the 2019-20 Progress Report on Child Poverty, which was required by end June 2020.

“This has allowed officials to focus efforts on protecting communities from the impacts of the virus in line with the powers provided by the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020.

“We will consult with the Poverty and Inequality Commission in relation to progress made and the further progress required, ensuring they have the time they need to consider this request.

“Tackling child poverty remains an absolute priority and we are committed to publishing the report as soon as reasonably practicable in the circumstances.”

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