Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017

The Scottish Parliament passed the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill on 8 November 2017. The Bill received Royal Assent on 18 December 2017.

The Bill establishes, in law, four targets for tackling child poverty which must be met by 31 March 2031. Scotland is now the only part of the UK with statutory targets to tackle child poverty.

The Bill requires the Scottish Ministers to create delivery plans to tackle child poverty. The Scottish Ministers must report progress to Parliament. The first delivery plan runs from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2022. Subsequent plans will run from 2022 to 2026 and from 2026 to 2031.

Local authorities and health boards must report jointly on their activity to address child poverty at the local level.

The Social Security Committee led the scrutiny of this Bill

Stage 1

Stakeholder engagement and committee scrutiny strengthened the Bill

The role of the Social Security Committee at Stage 1 was to recommend to the Parliament whether the general principles of the Bill should be agreed to. We did this based on evidence we heard from a wide range of stakeholders.

The Social Security Committee asked people what they wanted to see from this Bill between February and April 2017. 41 organisations and individuals wrote to the committee.

The Social Security Committee met in Glasgow City Chambers to take evidence on the Bill on 27 March 2017. We chose Glasgow for our first meeting because research shows that child poverty is highest here. More than one in three children in the Glasgow City area are living in poverty; the highest ratio in Scotland.

MSPs (centre image) heard from (left to right) Andrew Hood, Institute for Fiscal Studies; Naomi Eisenstadt, Independent Advisor on Poverty and Inequality, Scottish Government; Dr Jim McCormick, Joseph Rowntree Scotland; Eddie Follan, Barnardo's Scotland; and John Dickie, Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland. Pictures: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament.
"If we are to have that commitment [to eradicating child poverty] as a society, having good, clear measurements and targets is important for scrutiny and ensuring that we are on track and that we can change course if we are not progressing at the rate at which we would like to progress"

John Dickie, Child Poverty Action Group

We also met with people working in health, education and social care, housing, community regeneration and income maximisation in Glasgow. We took further evidence at a public meeting in Edinburgh on 20 April 2017.

"The Committee is extremely grateful to everyone who submitted evidence and took time to meet with us to assist us in reaching our views on this Bill"

Sandra White, MSP, Convener (2016-17)

In May 2017 we wrote to the Scottish Parliament with our views and recommendations. This is known as the Stage 1 report. It informs the first debate in Parliament.

Committee recommendations based on the evidence we heard

Stage 2

The Social Security Committee considered 59 amendments lodged at stage 2

Key amendments agreed at stage 2

Stage 3

The stage 3 debate took place on 8 November 2017

The Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill was passed unanimously.

"The bill signals the importance that we as a Parliament and as a country place on tackling the unacceptable levels of child poverty across Scotland".
"The Coalition to End Child Poverty helped to improve the bill in a number of ways. The Scottish Youth Parliament, among others, powerfully represented the views and interests of young people. Oxfam Scotland played a valuable role in helping to prepare of the introduction of the Poverty and Inequality Commission".

Angela Constance, MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities

"It is important that there is a statutory Poverty and Inequality Commission...that is accountable to us as MSPs and not merely the minister of the day".

Adam Tomkins, MSP, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Communities, Social Security and Equalities (Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party)

"I have been keen to highlight the issues of lone parents and those with a disability, and I am pleased that they are now in the bill and will have to be addressed by ministers".

Pauline McNeill, MSP, Shadow Communities Minister (Scottish Labour Party)

"Today is a really important day for the Scottish Parliament. By putting targets for the reduction of poverty back into law, we are saying that child poverty in a country that is as well-off as Scotland is not acceptable and the the Parliament will expend every effort to reduce it significantly as we work to eradicate it".

Alison Johnstone, MSP, Spokesperson for:Health & Sport; Social Security; Children & Young People (Scottish Green Party)

What happens now?

The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act received Royal Assent on 18 December 2017.

The first delivery plan will be laid before Parliament by 31 March 2018. The delivery plan runs from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2022. Delivery plans must specify what Ministers will do to meet child poverty targets, how the actions are expected to reduce child poverty, why these actions have been chosen and how much they will cost.

The statutory Poverty and Inequality Commission will be created on 1 July 2019. The current non-statutory commission will exist until then and will advise Ministers on the first delivery plan.

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