Committee calls for interim targets for tackling child poverty


Targets aimed at reducing child poverty in Scotland are too long range according to a report issued today by the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee.

The Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill sets four income based targets against which child poverty in Scotland will be measured. In welcoming the reintroduction of statutory targets, the Committee is concerned that the proposed targets are too distant. It has recommended interim targets should be put in place in order to create the sense of urgency and focus needed to eradicate child poverty.

The Bill also requires the Scottish Government to prepare delivery plans to report against the targets. However, the Committee calls for greater detail about the plans.

Committee Convener Sandra White MSP said:

“There is simply no room for child poverty in a modern Scotland, so any legislation aimed at tackling this is to be applauded for its ambition. The Bill before us contains challenging targets for measuring child poverty but we believe that these targets do not go far enough.

“The introduction of interim targets would send a much louder message about the importance that is placed on tackling child poverty and they would create a sense of urgency which is needed if we are to really make a difference.

“Of course, targets alone cannot eradicate child poverty. It is the delivery plans and progress reports that will detail the action being taken and how effective this action is. We need more information about the format and shape of these plans.”

The Committee’s report suggests that the delivery plans should include the following:

  • The full use of Scottish social security powers;
  • The provision of information, advice and assistance to parents and carers in relation to welfare rights and income maximisation;
  • The provision of suitable and affordable housing;
  • The availability of childcare; and
  • The facilitation of employment for parents and carers.

The Committee’s report also states that there must be stronger independent scrutiny arrangements in place to ensure this and future governments are held to account on meeting the child poverty targets. For that reason the Committee is calling for a statutory commission to scrutinise Scottish Ministers’ delivery and progress.


The Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill was introduced in response to the UK Government's repeal of significant sections of the UK Child Poverty Act 2010 (the 2010 Act) including the income based targets to address child poverty across the UK.

The Scottish Government opposed the UK Government's change of approach and secured an opt-out.

This Scottish Government Bill mirrors certain provisions in the 2010 Act. The difference is that the targets measuring net income in this Bill are on an after housing-costs (AHC) basis, whereas the previous UK approach had been before housing-costs (BHC).

The purpose of the Bill is to set out targets and a framework for reporting. It does not specify any policy actions that will reduce levels of child poverty.

More information about the Committee’s consideration of the Bill can be found at:

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