Scottish Government delays annual child poverty report

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell made the delay public, saying it will allow officials to focus on the coronavirus pandemic.

Due to be published before the end of this month, the Progress Report on Child Poverty 2019-20 is used to monitor the success of the Every Child, Every Chance plan, which laid out 58 actions for tackling child poverty under the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act.

In the first progress report, published on June 26 last year, Campbell said 48 of those actions are in progress.

She did not disclose if there is a new publication date for the report, but insisted tackling child poverty remains a “top priority” for the Scottish Government.

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In response to a written question from SNP MSP Bob Doris, Campbell said: “Due to the unprecedented impact of coronavirus, we have made the difficult decision to delay preparation and publication of the 2019-20 progress report on child poverty, which was required by end June 2020.

“This has allowed officials to focus efforts on protecting communities from the impacts of the virus in line with the powers provided by the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020.

“We will consult with the Poverty and Inequality Commission in relation to progress made and the further progress required, ensuring they have the time they need to consider this request.

“Tackling child poverty remains an absolute priority and we are committed to publishing the report as soon as reasonably practicable in the circumstances.”

But the decision has been criticised by opposition parties, with Scottish Tory education spokesman Jamie Greene said the monitoring of child poverty “could not be more important” in the current pandemic.

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He added: “We have serious concerns that vulnerable children are being left behind in this crisis as a result of the economic downturn, the lack of formal education and for some, worrying domestic situations.

“We already know that many vulnerable children are falling through the cracks in support and monitoring with only 1% of all children attending educational hubs, a worryingly low statistic.

“While some timescale alteration might have been understandable an indefinite delay is utterly unreasonable.”

Greene pushed for the Scottish Government to provide an alternative publication date.

Pauline McNeill, the Scottish Labour communities and equalities spokeswoman, said: “While we understand that the pandemic has put strain on the work of the Government, the decision not to publish this crucial report is entirely unacceptable.

“The continued existence of child poverty in Scotland should shame us all and the economic impact of this pandemic will only make matters worse for too many families.

“By failing to publish this report the Scottish Government is sending a clear message to the people of Scotland: tackling child poverty is not a priority.”



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