Our bright futures


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Best Start, Bright Futures – Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan

The newly published delivery plan on tackling child poverty provides an update on the Scottish Government’s national mission to deliver the change needed to support families across Scotland. This Delivery Plan sets out the bold and ambitious actions needed with partners across Scotland to provide the support families need both immediately and in the medium to longer term. Through these actions we can see the support at a national level for us in Angus to ensure sustainable progress towards our 2030 targets and deliver our vision to make Angus a great place to live, work and visit.

Our Bright Futures Report shows through the drivers of poverty how we will deliver on the themes in this plan.

National Child Poverty Targets

The Best Start, Bright Futures Delivery Plan 2022-26 sets out the interim targets for 2023/24 with final targets to be met by 2030 aligning with timescales for Scotland to keep the promise. 

Fewer than 18% of children living in families in relative poverty in 2023-24, reducing to fewer than 10% by 2030. This means fewer than one in ten children living in households on low incomes by 2030, compared to the average UK household.

Fewer than 14% of children living in families in absolute poverty in 2023-24, reducing to fewer than 5% by 2030. This means fewer than one in twenty children living in low income households where living standards are not increasing by 2030.

Fewer than 8% of children living in families living in combined low income and material deprivation in 2023-24, reducing to fewer than 5% by 2030. This means fewer than one in twenty children living in low income households who can’t afford basic essential goods and services by 2030.

Fewer than 8% of children living in families in persistent poverty in 2023-24, reducing to fewer than 5% by 2030. This means fewer than one in twenty children living in households in poverty for three years out of four by 2030.

Current Position

Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on data collection for the Family Resources Survey, which is the source for these measures, data for the latest three-year period 2018-21 was not robust enough to be published as official statistics. (Scottish Government - Child poverty analysis) Data to inform the national targets are from the Family Resources Survey and Understanding Society, which can only provide statistics at Scotland level. (Scottish Government - Local child poverty dashboard).

Other data on inflation, incomes, and benefits, however, allow us to see how recent trends in child poverty fall into three broad phases.

In 2021/22 and particularly from late summer 2021 child poverty has increased markedly. The 0.5% benefits increase in April 2021 was below inflation of 1.5% in the same month. Rapidly rising prices throughout 2021/22 (consumer price index inflation was 7% in March 2022 and 10.1% at the time of writing), the removal of the £20 benefit uplift at the end of September 2021, and wage increases that fell far short of cost-of-living inflation have all had an impact. 

Increases in inflation not seen in decades are affecting not only children in workless and underemployed households but also those in low and middle income working families.  

Anecdotal evidence suggests the end of lockdowns and restrictions did have a positive impact on health, wellbeing, resilience, safety, and relationships. It is not known, however, whether the negative impact on resilience of the pandemic period has left some less able to cope with the challenges of inflation and a changing economy in 2021, 2022 and beyond. 

These developments suggest child poverty increased significantly in 2021/22. It is expected that there are now more children in poverty than there were in 2019/20 when according to End Child Poverty there were 4,598.

The increase in child poverty from September 2021 followed falls from March 2020 to late summer 2021. Benefits increases of 1.7% and a £20 benefit uplift at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 combined with falling inflation, at or below 1% from April 2020 to March 2021, acted to reduce child poverty. Lockdowns and restrictions also reduced spending and led to forced saving. 

Earnings from employment fell for some, with job losses and reduced hours but overall, it appears that with furlough and self-employment support reduced incomes were outweighed by forced reductions in spending. 

Data on the number of children living in poverty after housing costs (End Child Poverty) supports this analysis, falling by 789 to 3,809 (20.6%) in 2020/21 from 4,598 (24.05%) in 2019/20. 

it’s important to note that lockdowns and restrictions from March 2020 running into spring 2022 also caused problems for many in terms of health and wellbeing, domestic situations, learning, resilience, safety, and relationships. While material poverty decreased the impact on the wellbeing, resilience, and life-chances of those experiencing child poverty raised new challenges. 

To understand these later phases, it’s important to remember the benefits cap that had frozen most working-age benefits at their 2015/16 cash value for four years. While the employment and earnings picture were more positive in relation to inflation than in 2021/22 with unemployment at relatively low levels unemployment did increase from 2.1% in 2015/16 to 2.9% in 2019/20. The differing dynamics of in-work and out-of-work child poverty are important.

In short, 2015/16 to March 2020 saw a benefits freeze combined with low unemployment. March 2020 to April 2021 and particularly the end of the £20 benefits uplift in September 2022 saw a period of low inflation and forced saving combined with increased benefits income and protection for employment (furlough) and self-employment.  A period in which inflation has then followed this far outstripped both benefit and wage increases in 2021/22.

Local data

Population116,200115,820Census mid-year estimates 
Connecting Scotland devices distributed
(Angus Council & D&A College)
346162Scottish Government
Best Start grant and best Start Food
applications processed
22151575Social Security Scotland
New build affordable homes delivered446159Angus Council
Welfare rights enquiries22353572Angus Council
Value of Best Start Grant Payments£591,555£550,060Social Security Scotland
Residents benefiting from Home Energy
Efficiency Programme
Benefit appeals77100Angus Council
Scottish Child Paymentsnot recorded£1,214,830Social Security Scotland
Homeless applications366281Housing
Financial gain from benefit checks£3,851,344£4,526,779Angus Council
Sustainable period products delivered366281Free Period Angus
Online benefit calculator uses20642191 
Young people starting Children & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) treatment  1300data not yet available 

Data shows that between 2017 and 2022 there has been a 51% (1,832) increase in the number of referrals from Angus residents who require advice, support or assistance for matters relating to fuel poverty and energy efficiency. 2021/22 saw the largest annual increase (+1,500 from 20/21) with just under 5,400 households making contact, likely as a result of the impact of Covid and the early stages of the cost-of-living crisis.  Over 1,500 of these households were referred on to a wide range of schemes, with a total of 641 measures installed in their homes.

The numbers also highlight that whilst many households are experiencing financial problems and aspire to improve the energy efficiency of their home, they do not however all qualify for free or low-cost measures to be installed. It is also worth noting that the data for 2021/22 is pre-fuel price hikes and therefore the true picture is likely to be far worse as we experience multiple fuel price hikes during 2022/23. Where households are deemed ineligible for assistance, household budgets will be further stretched, and the likely outcomes will be stark choice between heating or eating.

Next: Where are we going?