One in four children living in poverty as childcare woes and disabilities bite

One in four Scottish children are living in relative poverty '“ often because their parents are unable to work because of a disability or childcare problems.

Holyrood legislation set a number of targets for cutting child poverty including having just one in ten children living in relative poverty. Picture: TSPL

A study into poverty in Scotland found almost a quarter of a million youngsters north of the Border live in poverty, with their families forced to choose between essential expenditure such as eating or heating their homes.

Of these children, 90,000 lived in a family where a family member, usually an adult, had a disability or limiting health condition – around 40 per cent of all children in poverty. Around a half of these children lived in a family where no adult worked and close to an additional 15,000 lived in a couple family where only one adult worked.

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The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) warned the Scottish Government needs to take action to ensure families can find fair work with flexible hours and decent pay.

Legislation passed unanimously by Holyrood in 2017 set a number of targets for cutting child poverty, including having just one in ten children living in relative poverty and only 5 per cent in absolute poverty, by 2030. Relative poverty is defined as children living in households with income below 60 per cent of the UK median.

But the JRF said there needed to be more link up between poverty strategies and labour market strategies, adding without this “it is questionable whether the Scottish Government will be able to reach its child poverty targets”.

JRF chief executive Campbell Robb said: “In Scotland, we believe in protecting each other from harm and yet we are now seeing more children growing up in poverty. One in four – almost a quarter of a million children – are now exposed to this harmful reality. Families in Scotland are facing impossible situations such as deciding whether to pay the rent, put food on the table or pay for heating.

“There is consensus across the Scottish Parliament that this unacceptable situation of so many children in poverty will be brought to an end within a generation. This is achievable. But it means the Scottish Government needs to lead the way, working with and encouraging employers to open opportunities for parents with disabilities or caring commitments.”

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “We know what can be achieved when the right solutions are in place, but we also know that much more needs to be done. That’s why more concerted action is required.”