Report reveals growing scale of child poverty crisis

A new report from a coalition of anti-poverty groups has revealed that around 5,000 children in East Lothian (26.2 per cent) are now estimated to be living in poverty, a rise of nearly four per cent in the period 2014 to 2019.

Published by the End Child Poverty campaign, the research shows that child poverty has increased in nearly every Scottish local authority and Westminster constituency since 2014/15.

The report is based on data published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in March 2020, and on estimates of the effect of housing costs on poverty rates produced by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, based on survey evidence.

The new data, which does not include the period of Covid-19 and lockdown, shows the scale of the challenge faced by UK, Scottish and local government if commitments to end child poverty in Scotland are to be met. It also comes just a week after a Joseph Rowntree Foundation report which showed nearly one in four children in Scotland are growing up in poverty.

Local MSP Iain Gray has blamed the impact of the UK Government’s Universal Credit welfare system, which was piloted in the East Lothian area, and cuts to public services for the above average increase in the county’s child poverty rate since 2014.

Commenting on the new figures, Mr Gray said:

“This is the latest in a series of reports over recent months that have highlighted increasing levels of child poverty across Scotland. Despite the best efforts of the local council, East Lothian is not immune from the effects of the calamitous Universal Credit, years of austerity and cuts to funding for local services which are driving up poverty levels here and elsewhere.

“This report shows how important it is for governments at both Scottish and UK level to focus on lifting children and families out of poverty rather than obsessing about constitutional questions. Too many children are being failed by government policies, with more now growing up in poverty than five years ago.

“The scale of the problem revealed by the report also underlines the importance of redoubling local efforts on poverty, which is why I have called for East Lothian’s plans for tackling deprivation and inequality to be revisited and renewed in light of the pandemic.”

The full report and further background information can be found at www.endchildpoverty.org.uk/child-poverty-in-your-area-201415-201819/