Citizens Advice Scotland agrees that the Scottish Government should
include in statute an ambition to eradicate child poverty. It is equally important
however that this ambition is backed up by clear strategies with specific,
measurable and deliverable actions that are directly linked to reducing the
levels of child poverty in Scotland.
Citizens Advice Scotland would recommend the Scottish Government also consider poverty and inequality affecting all groups as part of its ambition and strategy, and considers including some measures towards meeting this in the Bill.
Citizens Advice Scotland agrees that statutory targets in the Bill should include income.
Citizens Advice Scotland would recommend that the Ministerial Advisory Group, or other equivalent body is included in statute, to ensure it has a clear and ongoing function in tackling child poverty. It may be the case that this role is better served by the independent Poverty Adviser, or a Poverty and Inequality Commission which was proposed in the Programme for Government
Citizens Advice Scotland would recommend local authorities produce child poverty (or poverty and inequality) strategies and report on them, making the most of independent expertise and the best evidence in their development.
Citizens Advice Scotland agrees that the proposed income-based measures in the Bill are acceptable measures for the targets.
In addition, Citizens Advice Scotland recommends the Scottish Government consider including the proportion of children in severe poverty to ensure that the depth of poverty is reflected in the targets.
Citizens Advice Scotland is content with the levels of child poverty that the targets will be set at.
Citizens Advice Scotland agrees that targets should be set on an After Housing Costs basis as this is more reflective of households’ actual costs and level of disposable income.
Citizens Advice Scotland would recommend that the Scottish Government undertake analysis and research on the feasibility of eradicating child poverty by particular dates, and what steps would require to be taken to achieve it, before settling on a particular point in time for a legislative target.
Citizens Advice Scotland would recommend that Delivery Plans are set every three years, as is currently required, rather than every five years. CAS agrees that Scottish Government should report on the Delivery Plan annually.
Citizens Advice Scotland welcomes the general approach to measuring drivers and impacts of poverty. However, there are a number of important indicators of child poverty that are missing, in the main relating to families’ incomes, such as the adequacy of social security benefits, compared to the level of income needed to lift families out of poverty, and the proportion of income spent on essential goods and services amongst the lowest income households.
Citizens Advice Scotland would recommend the Scottish Government ensure that plans to tackle poverty and inequality more widely are consistent and complementary with the targets set out in the Bill, and collectively represent a focussed set of actions towards the eradication of poverty and inequality from Scotland.
In its strategic plans following the Bill, Citizens Advice Scotland would recommend that the Scottish Government sets out how it intends to work with the UK Government to ensure that all necessary actions are taken to meet the targets.