A generation of Scottish children could continue to live in poverty and be unable to realise their full potential, the body representing Scotland’s councils has warned.
The Scottish Government has set ambitious targets to tackle child poverty by 2030, but meeting them depends on local authority services and their partners, says the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla).
The warning comes ahead of the Scottish Government’s budget which is to be revealed on 6 February.
Cosla chiefs also say that ring-fenced funding to improve attainment has come at the expense of the services underpinning how local authorities tackle causes of child poverty.
They say youth work, family support and financial advice are at risk due to successive cuts to the local government settlement.
Cosla resources spokeswoman Gail Macgregor said risks of not investing in local government were “too great”.
“In supporting families and addressing persistent, intergenerational issues, councils play a unique role at all stages of our lives,” she said.
“We risk allowing an entire generation of children to grow up in poverty, unable to realise their full potential.
“Tackling child poverty needs a joined-up, long-term approach across all spheres of government. This will allow local authorities to make valuable local connections across services and focus on early intervention and prevention.”
Sally Ann Kelly, chief executive of Aberlour, the children’s charity, wants the Scottish Government to provide transitional funding for early intervention.
“Vital grassroots services such as family support and youth work have seen very significant cuts, yet we know they provide a lifeline for many of our most vulnerable citizens,” she said.
“Aberlour is calling on the Scottish Government to provide a transitional fund supporting local authorities to deliver early intervention family support services, as well as continue to provide specialist support for children and families most affected by poverty and inequality.”
Annie Gunner Logan, chief executive of the Coalition of Care and Support Providers, said the number of children living in poverty was continuing to rise.
“Such disadvantage causes mental health issues, poor educational attainment, instability at home and difficulty in earning enough to break the cycle,” she said.
“Yet it is not inevitable. With the right action and bold investment this can be turned around.”
Ms Gunner Logan added: “We call for the lived experience of children and families in poverty to be at the heart of the review; and for vision and ambition to be backed up by adequate funding.”
Last year, the Scottish Government published its first Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, which outlined a range of actions aimed at meeting child poverty targets. It was backed with a £50 million fund.