MSPs on the Health and Sport Committee have launched an investigation into why 160,000 children in Scotland continue to live in poverty.
As they launch their investigation, the Committee today (28 October) met with parents of children that have experienced poverty and heard first-hand the impact this has on their family life and on their children.
MSPs will also separately take evidence on what more can be done to eradicate child poverty from children’s organisations and the Scottish Government later on this year.
Convener of the Health and Sport Committee, Duncan McNeil MSP, said:
“It is no exaggeration to say that each and every child that is growing up in poverty is being badly let down by the system.
“These children need action now.
“So our Committee is undertaking a short focussed investigation to try and determine why over 160,000 children in Scotland continue to be blighted by poverty.”
Deputy Convener, Bob Doris MSP said:
“We all know that child poverty is a complex issue with no easy answers.
“But by taking evidence on this issue, we hope to bring to the fore why child poverty continues to affect thousands of children all across Scotland.
“This is important not only for children that every day face the stark reality of living in poverty but also for the next generation of children. We owe it to them to do better.”
Marion Davis for the Campaign to End Child Poverty in Scotland said:
“Poverty is affecting a large and growing number of children in Scotland. Families that we work with tell us that every day is a challenge when it means that parents can’t provide the basics for their children. Added to this is the worry about the negative side effects of growing up in poverty damaging childhoods and life chances.
“The Committee’s investigation is a chance to hear families’ stories and listen to their experiences. They are the experts in their own situations and by working with them we can make sure that the right support is in place when they need it. We need to increase focus and attention on the actions that are needed to give every child in Scotland the best start in life.
“Child poverty is not a natural phenomenon, it is the product of choices and actions made by government and society. It is important to identify the steps we need to take to end child poverty - we all can, and must, do better.”
The Committee met with families of those affected by child poverty on Monday 28 October in Glasgow, to inform the Committee’s investigation. The session was hosted by the Children’s Inclusion Partnership in Possilpark. Their investigation into child poverty forms a strand of a larger piece of work that the Committee is undertaking on health inequalities. They will launch a series of ‘investigations’ that link to health inequalities, already undertaking an inquiry into teenage pregnancy.
The Committee will undertake two further evidence sessions to question witnesses on why children are still living in poverty in Scotland today. The outcome of their investigation will depend on the issues that are raised.
The Scottish Government recently published their ‘annual report for the child poverty strategy for Scotland’.
According to Scottish Government figures, there has been a significant reduction in child poverty over the last ten years. In 2011/12 160,000 children (16 per cent of all children) were living in absolute poverty in Scotland before housing costs. The targets set out in the Child Poverty Act are to reduce relative poverty to 10% and absolute poverty to 5%.