Commission advises Scotland’s social security powers need to help combat child poverty

Scotland’s Poverty and Inequality Commission has advised that the Scottish Government will need to make significant use of new social security powers if it is going to meet challenging targets to reduce child poverty.

In its first report, Advice on the Scottish Government’s Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2018 published today (Monday 26 February), the Commission called on the Government to set out the extent to which it intends to use social security powers, alongside action on work and earnings and addressing housing costs, to meet its 2030 child poverty targets.

Chairman for the Commission, Douglas Hamilton said:

“The Scottish Government needs to be realistic about the scale of the challenge that the country faces in tackling child poverty. It needs to set out the actions that will make the greatest impact.  New social security powers will need to be used to help reach the targets and the Government needs to be clear the extent to which it is prepared to introduce new benefits or top-up existing ones.  Benefits are not the answer alone, however. More needs to be done to support parents into work and to progress in work while finding new ways to reduce housing costs for the poorest households.”

The report also highlighted that the relationship between work and poverty is not straightforward.

Douglas added:

“Work will be the most effective route out of poverty for many households, but higher employment alone will not necessarily address child poverty for all children. In-work poverty has been rising in recent years with nearly two-thirds of children who are in poverty living in a household where someone is in some form of employment.

As well as supporting parents to gain employment, the plan also needs to consider action that will address issues such as wages, hours, security, training, quality and opportunities to progress.”

The Commission’s advice sets out a series of recommendations for the Scottish Government as to how their plan can make the most likely impact on reaching the targets at the same as improving the quality of life for children who are growing up in poverty.

To find out more information about the Poverty and Inequality Commission and to view the full report including an executive summary go to


About the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017

The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 sets in law four targets relating to  child poverty which are to be met by 2030.

The Scottish Government is required to publish three Child Poverty Delivery Plans over the period to 2030 that set out the actions that the Scottish Government will take in order to meet the targets.

The Poverty and Inequality Commission has been asked by the Scottish Government to provide advice on its first Child Poverty Delivery Plan.

About the Poverty and Inequality Commission

The Commission provides independent advice to ministers and has a strong scrutiny role in monitoring progress towards tackling poverty and inequality.
It has an advocacy role to help bring about real reductions in poverty and inequality in Scotland.

The Commission is independent of the Scottish Government.



Douglas Hamilton Douglas Hamilton is currently the Director of the RS Macdonald Charitable Trust having previously been the Head of Save the Children in Scotland. Between 2013 and 2016, Douglas was a member of the Commission on Social Mobility and Child Poverty, and has also served on the Scottish Ministerial Advisory Group on Child Poverty.

Douglas is a former Chair of the Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights, has been on the board of One Parent Families Scotland and helped lead the Coalition to End Child Poverty (ECP) in Scotland. He also currently chairs the management committee of the Lothian Equal Access Programme for Schools (LEAPS).

A law graduate from Edinburgh University, Douglas’ career began at the Scottish Human Rights Centre and he subsequently took on policy and research roles with Children in Scotland, COSLA and Barnardo’s. Away from work Douglas helps organise children’s and youth activities through his local church.

Deputy Chairs

  • Naomi Eisenstadt
  • Kaliani Lyle


  • David Eiser
  • Hugh Foy
  • Caroline Kennedy
  • Katie Schmuecker
  • Sally Witcher

For more information or to request an interview please contact Richard Holligan on 0131 225 7700/ 07775 482330 or rholligan@3×

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