Shocking levels of child poverty are affecting the lives of over 200,000 Scottish children. With numbers set to rise by 100,000 in the next five years, figures compiled for the Campaign to End Child Poverty reveal a disturbing UK-wide Child Poverty Map. Across Scotland one in five children are living in hardship while one in three children in Glasgow live in poverty.
“Too many children are missing out on what most of us take for granted, like healthy food, clothes and shoes, birthday treats, school trips or holidays.”
Children live in poverty when their family income from benefits, wages and in-work tax credits are below 60% of the national median income (less than £364 a week for a couple with two children or less than £269 per week for a lone parent with two children).
Anti-poverty campaigners blame low wages and benefits, welfare sanctions, rising housing, fuel and child care costs. The adults in six out of ten families in poverty are working. Neill Mather of Save the Children was clear, “Too many children are missing out on what most of us take for granted, like healthy food, clothes and shoes, birthday treats, school trips or holidays.”
Children’s poverty is closely linked to women’s poverty. Twice as many women as men rely on benefits and tax credits. Lone parents make up a substantial number of those in poverty and are 95% of the lone parents who receive benefits. Scottish women earn less than men overall and female-dominated sectors of the workforce, like the care sector, remain largely low-paid and undervalued. Scottish women do most of society’s paid and unpaid caring. When women are poor, children are too.
Child poverty is preventable. Anti-child poverty campaigners are calling for increased benefits and the introduction of a national hourly living wage of £7.20. Recognizing women’s role in Scotland’s caring economy would give them a decent income and could help consign the child poverty map of Scotland to history.