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Child Poverty in Scotland. Child Poverty and Educational Inequalities PINS Seminar 28 October 2008 John Dickie Head of CPAG in Scotland [email protected] . Child Poverty . Context – nature of the problem – what are we talking about?

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Child poverty in scotland
Child Poverty in Scotland

Child Poverty and Educational Inequalities

PINS Seminar 28 October 2008

John Dickie

Head of CPAG in Scotland

[email protected]

Child poverty
Child Poverty

  • Context – nature of the problem – what are we talking about?

  • Response to date – Scottish and UK government

  • Relationship with educational inequalities

  • What needs to happen and who needs to do it?

The problem
The problem

  • 250 000 children living in poverty (1in4)(ahc)

  • (across UK 1 in 3, 3.9 million children)

  • twice 1979 rate

  • over twice rate of many other European countries

  • children at greater risk than population as a whole

  • public scepticism …tendency to blame individuals

  • structural problem of inequality, discrimination, unfair distribution of income

  • relative poverty measure

Impact of child poverty
Impact of Child Poverty

  • By age 3, children in poverty 9 months behind in ‘school readiness’

  • birth-weight – children born in the poorest fifth of areas average weigh 200g less than richest fifth

  • cost to society – estimate at £1.5 - £1.75 billion (Scotland), also loss of social cohesion/wellbeing.

  • Impact uneven – lone parenthood, disability, family size, worklessness, ethnicity

The response
The response

  • Targets to reduce child poverty by one quarter by half by 2010

  • …and eradicate it by 2020

  • “Our historic aim, that ours is the first generation to end child poverty forever …It’s a 20-year mission, but I believe it can be done” Tony Blair, March 1999

  • “We have made clear our commitment…to doing all within the powers available to us to help achieve the milestone to halve child poverty by 2010…and eradicating child poverty by 2020” Scottish Government, January 2008

The response1
The response

Related Scottish Government targets

(in National Performance Framework)

  • Reduce income inequality – the Solidarity Golden Rule (one of six top level Purpose Targets)

  • Decrease the proportion of individuals living in poverty (Indicator 10)

Current policy and impact
Current Policy and Impact

  • Key Policy measures to improve incomes:

    • Investment in family incomes (tax credits, child benefit) and in Scotland take up and advice and information

    • Increasing parental employment (W2W, Working for Families, improved rights at work)

    • Improving earnings from employment (NMW, skills)

How well are we doing
How well are we doing?

  • Policy works: first target to reduce child poverty by a quarter by 2004-05 met in Scotland (though not in UK)

  • Subject on political agenda across political parties

  • but child poverty in UK increased by 200,000 children in 2005-07, and standstill in Scotland

  • Not on track to meet the target for 2010

Key issues
Key Issues

  • Welfare reform - Conditionality

    • Rights and responsibilities – getting the balance right..

    • Conditions and sanctions – risk to children

  • Availability of good quality jobs

    • Low pay, discrimination, insecurity, lack of progression

    • Half of children in poverty living in working families

      • Lone parent employment rate target of 70% would already be met if sustained jobs at same rate as other

  • Gaps in provision – childcare

  • Key issues 2
    Key Issues 2

    • Benefit/TC ‘safety net’ inadequate

      • and families not getting what they are entitled to

      • Make Child Benefit Count

    • Scottish Government’s Discussion Paper on Poverty

      • welcome language and ambition, but contradictions need resolved. Can you achieve low child poverty/more equal social/economic model whilst pursuing tax freezing/cutting agenda?

    • Barriers to education

      • 2Skint4School

      • Costs of education

      • Free school meals campaign

    Impact of poverty on education
    Impact of Povertyon Education

    • Among lowest attaining 20% of pupils twice proportion of pupils registered for FSM. Attainment gap widening.

    • Highest proportion of the lowest attaining pupils live in most deprived areas.

    • By age 3, children in poverty 9 mths behind in ‘school readiness’.

    • At each stage of schooling poverty gap grows.

    • Worse prospects as enter secondary school.

    • Worse results at age 16.

    • Social gap in university entrance.

    • Twice as likely to leave school with no qualifications.

    The costs of school reinforcing disadvantage
    The costs of school: reinforcing disadvantage

    • Prohibitive costs exclude children– from school trips, from home access to computers/internet, from creative and cultural opportunities.

    • Lack of consistency or guidance on charging policy.

    • Cost of healthy school meals: undermines nutrition.

    • Cost of school uniforms: variation across Scotland in school uniform grants.

    Chicken and egg
    Chicken and egg

    • Education can’t in itself end child poverty – need to recognise limits of education policy.

    • As long as families don’t have enough money to bring up children attainment gaps will prevail, undermining the next generation, and their children’s, chances of living lives free of poverty.

    • In seeking to address educational inequalities need to look at range of factors that impact on children.

    • Yet education policy can, and must, play a role in reducing the inequalities in the life chances of our children.

    What needs to happen
    What needs to happen?

    • Address inadequate family incomes

      • Tackle low pay and inadequate benefit/tax credit safety net

    • Reduce the costs of participation

      • Build on free school meals pilot and extension

      • Identify and promote good practice in minimising impact of charges for school related activity

      • Minimise impact of school uniform costs

    • Put children’s well-being at forefront of childcare and educational strategy, irrespective of parental work status.

    • See

    Next steps
    Next steps

    • Child poverty and underachievement not inevitable.

    • With the right action all children can participate and benefit fully from educational opportunities

    • Ending child poverty needs to be at heart of education agenda

    • Sign up to 2 skint 4 school

    • E-mail your MP to sign EDM1799 supporting 2 skint 4 school.

    • Link your website or blog to

    • Let us know your views- Help our research and inform the campaign's main report and recommendations to Govt.