Skip to main content
Bookmark and Share

Child Poverty Strategy

An Overview

Man Chilling 180x 165There are already strong policies in place in Scotland to tackle poverty and inequality but more can and will be done. The Scottish Child Poverty Strategy sets out how we will focus on, and give greater momentum to, our efforts to tackle child poverty.

Many of the key levers to drive the changes needed in Scotland are at a local level however, the wider context of powers are reserved to the UK Government. Supporting local delivery partners and working with the UK Government are important features of the Child Poverty Strategy for Scotland.

The main aims of this strategy are:

Maximising household resources

Income poverty and material deprivation will be reduced. This will be achieved by maximising household incomes and reducing pressure on household budgets among low income families. We will do this through measures such as maximising the potential for parents to access and sustain good quality employment, and promoting greater financial inclusion and capability.

Improving children's wellbeing and life chances

The ultimate aim of this strategy is to break inter-generational cycles of poverty, inequality and deprivation. This requires a focus on tackling the underlying social and economic causes of poverty, and improving the circumstances in which children grow up - recognising the particular importance of improving children's outcomes in the early years.

Child poverty is a complex issue, it affects and is affected by, a huge range of public policy issues. This strategy does not aim to address every single one of these. It is focused on the areas that the Scottish Government, its partners and stakeholders believe will have the greatest impact on tackling child poverty, based on the best available evidence.

While the actions set out in the strategy are mainly set in the short and medium term, the strategy is a long term approach to tackle intergenerational cycles of deprivation. It has three underpinning principles:

·  Early intervention and prevention: breaking cycles of poor outcomes
·  Building on the assets of individuals and communities: moving away from a focus on deficits
Ensuring that children and families needs are at the centre of service design and delivery


Early Intervention

The principles of early intervention and prevention are at the heart of Scotland's approach to tackling child poverty. Evidence suggests that effective preventative intervention help to break recurring cycles of poor social outcomes, and prevent extensive and expensive responses from public services at a later stage.

While the critical importance of the early years is clear, Scotland's early intervention and prevention approach applies throughout the life course. It is about ensuring that the right support is available to people at the key points when they need it, so that people at risk or in the early stages of developing difficulties do not reach crisis point.


Sustainable improvements in people's life chances are most likely to be achieved by identifying and supporting the development of their own capabilities to manage their way out of poverty.

Assets approaches invite individuals and communities to take control of managing positive changes in their circumstances. An assets-based approach relies on the ability of professionals to recognise that individuals and communities can move from being consumers of services to being a 'resource' which co-designs services. Enabling people to manage their own lives more effectively and lead to long-lasting improvements in their life chances.

Child Centred

The integration of children's rights into every aspect of delivery of children's services is key to ensuring that children get the best start in life and that their rights are respected.

The Getting it Right for Every Child approach (GIRFEC) aims to improve outcomes for all children and young people through a shared approach to service provision (including adult services where parents are involved). It is about how practitioners across all services for children and adults put the needs, experience and wishes of children and young people at the heart of the process.


National Performance Framework  The Central Purpose of the Scottish Government, as set out in the National Performance Framework, is to "focus Government and public services on creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth". Underpinning this goal are specific National Outcomes for children

·  Our children have the best start in life so that they are ready to succeed
·  We have improved the life chances for children, young people and families at risk.
·  Our young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens.

Decreasing the proportion of people living in poverty (a National Indicator) is an action that has been identified as a means to achieve all of these outcomes.

Achieving Our Potential  Achieving Our Potential: A Framework to Tackle Poverty and Income Inequality in Scotland  sets out the priorities for action and investment to deliver improvements in reducing income inequalities, introducing longer-term measures to tackle poverty and the drivers of low income, and supporting those experiencing poverty or at risk of falling into poverty.

It aims to take a balanced approach to tackling poverty, by removing barriers to employment, supporting those who cannot work through income maximisation, and making work pay. In the longer term, the approach will deliver measures to tackle poverty and low income through: providing children and young people with the best start in life; supporting the broader effort to deal with the health inequalities in our society; promoting equality and tackling discrimination; delivering good quality affordable housing for all; and regenerating disadvantaged communities.

Social Policy Frameworks  Achieving Our Potential works alongside two other inter-related frameworks: the Early Years Framework; and  Equally Well: Report of the Ministerial Taskforce on Health Inequalities. These have been developed in partnership with COSLA, and provide the basis for Scottish Government with its local partners (local government, the NHS, the third sector and other community planning partners) to set out a shared approach to tackling the major social problems that have affected Scotland for generations.

These frameworks are underpinned by policies that are consistent with the principles of  Getting it Right for Every Child, which is a distinctively Scottish approach to improving outcomes for all children. They are also linked to a wide range of other social policies.


UK Context

How does Scotland's strategy fit in with the UK Child Poverty targets?

Scotland shares with the rest of the UK common national goals for reducing child poverty by 2020. These were established in the Child Poverty Act 2010. The ultimate aim is to eradicate child poverty. Four targets have been set for 2020:

·  The relative low income target  - that less than 10% of children live in households that have a household income of less than 60% of median household income.
·  The combined low income and material deprivation target  - that less than 5% of children live in households that have a household income of less than 70% of median household income and experience material deprivation.
·  The absolute low income target  - that less than 5% of children live in households that have a household income of less than 60% of the median household income for the financial year starting on 1 April 2010.
·  The persistent poverty target  - to reduce the proportion of children that experience long periods of relative poverty (that is to reduce the percentage of children who live in households that have a household income of less than 60% of the median household income for three years out of a four-year period) with the specific target percentage to be set at a later date.

Child poverty in Scotland is affected by a mix of devolved and reserved policy measures. The Child Poverty Act requires that the UK Government produce a UK wide child poverty strategy. This will be relevant to tackling child poverty in Scotland in so far as it covers reserved policy measures which impact on Scotland, such as policy on personal taxation and benefits.

The Child Poverty Act also required Scottish Ministers to produce a Scottish strategy. This strategy focuses on policy matters that are devolved to the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Ministers.

Early Intervention

Finance Committee Inquiry into Preventative Spend

Joining the Dots: A better start for Scotland's Children - A report on the importance of children in early years

The Foundation Years: Preventing poor children from becoming poor adults - an independent review by Frank Field MP

Early Intervention the next steps -  Report by Graham Allen MP

Scottish Government report on financial impact of early intervention

Child Centred

Do the Right Thing - A report for children and young people of Scottish Government action in response to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child Concluding Observations

Working Together, Achieving More - Report outlining the Government's commitment to work progressively towards implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

A Guide to Implementing Getting it right for every child: Messages from pathfinders and learning partners