The Poverty and Inequality Commission has funded the Fraser of Allander Institute in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University to build the evidence base on the effect of a series of social security, employment and housing policies on child poverty. While this initial work does not aim provide a straightforward policy “recipe” to meet Scotland’s child poverty targets, it makes a significant contribution towards understanding how we move from where we are now, to a future where children and families in Scotland are released from poverty.
The full report of the modelling work and an accompanying blog are available on the Fraser of Allander website.
In March 2022 the Scottish Government will publish its next Child Poverty “Delivery Plan”, which will set out the measures that it wants to take over the next four years to meet Scotland’s targets to reduce child poverty. This will be a crucial moment for tackling poverty in Scotland. The interim targets are set for 2024 and the latest statistics show that Scotland is not on track to meet them. Far too many children and families are still locked into poverty. This is even before accounting for the full effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is expected to deepen some existing inequalities, or potentially create new ones.
As a Commission, one of our most important roles is our statutory duty to provide advice to the Scottish Government on their Child Poverty Delivery Plans. We believe the targets can be met but that will require significantly more action, investment and in some instances structural changes. That action will need to happen fast.
The Commission is currently working on its advice to the Government for this plan, which, as with all our work, aims to centre people with lived experience of poverty and amplify their voices. A core principle of our approach is to generate useful evidence to illuminate the path ahead to ending child poverty, and to use it to help the Scottish Government and others to make the right decisions for children and families in poverty.
Understanding the best ways of using the levers that we have in Scotland to tackle poverty needs the best evidence we can bring to bear. The Commission funded the Fraser of Allander Institute in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University to build analytical modelling capacity so decision-makers can better understand the likely consequences of their actions on child poverty.
Today the Institute has published its initial report from this work. It has looked at whether the interim child poverty measures could be met using the levers of social security, housing and employment. It estimates that:
- An increase in the Scottish Child Payment to £40 a week per eligible child would meet the interim poverty target (18% of children living in Scottish households by 2023/24).
- The interim target would also be met in a hypothetical scenario where all parents in poverty worked 20 hours a week (at either minimum wage, or current hourly wage for those already in work).
- The maximum impact achieved by varying rents (assuming a hypothetical scenario of zero rent for families in poverty with children) would be a 2 percentage point fall in the rate of child poverty.
These are hypothetical scenarios rather than policy proposals. In reality the best way of meeting the targets is likely to involve a combination of actions, but the modelling shows the impact different levers could have, and that the targets can be met.
The report also considers a range of options to meet the final target. Importantly, it also looks at hypothetical ways this could be paid for and, for the first time, what impact these policy options and ways of funding them might have on the wider economy.
This work is preliminary and does not – nor is any modelling ever likely to – provide a straightforward “recipe” that the Scottish Government and other policy makers can follow to end child poverty in Scotland. It does, however, provide useful evidence that casts light on the road ahead to meeting Scotland’s child poverty targets.
The Commission will use this work along with other evidence and, crucially, the voices of people who experience poverty – experts by experience – to prepare its recommendations to the Scottish Government on its next Child Poverty Delivery Plan.
Read the full report on the Fraser of Allander website