FAI Publications, Poverty, Scottish Economy

Meeting Scotland’s child poverty targets

Read our full report here

Download a visual summary of the economic modelling here

Download a summary of the lived experience research here

Around 1 in 4 children in Scotland live in relative poverty. This means they live in a household with an income 60% below the UK median income after housing costs have been deducted.

Child poverty can have serious and lifelong impacts across a range of outcomes, and the Scottish Government have stated their aim to reduce significantly the incidence of child poverty. The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 includes a target to reduce relative child poverty to 10% by 2030/31. The baseline child poverty level is estimated to be 25% in 2020 compared to 24% in the most recent period (2017- 20).

Meeting the target would represent an unprecedented reduction in child poverty to levels not seen in Scotland certainly since the early 1990s when the current statistical series began.

Our latest report looks at some of the large, national level, devolved policy levers that the Scottish Government could use to meet the targets. We have focussed on childcare, employability programmes and social security. These are not the only options that the Scottish Government could take forward but are examples of structural policies that are capable of having a significant impact on household incomes and are Scotland wide in their reach.

By analysing variations of these types of policies, and different combinations, this analysis illustrates the scale of the impact on poverty and the associated costs and benefits of different options. We envisage that this will be helpful for policymakers and stakeholders who will be focused on developing actions for the next Tackling Child Poverty Delivery plan, due to be published by the Scottish Government by the end of March 2022. The modelling approach developed within this report is one that we hope will be emulated by the Scottish Government to ensure transparency and robustness of the delivery plan.

This report has been made possible due to financial support from abrdn Financial Fairness Trust and has been a collaborative project involving the Fraser of Allander Institute at the University of Strathclyde, the Policy Evaluation Research Unit at Manchester Metropolitan University and the Poverty Alliance.


Emma Congreve is a Principal Knowledge Exchange Fellow and Deputy Director at the Fraser of Allander Institute. Emma's work at the Institute is focussed on policy analysis, covering a wide range of areas of social and economic policy.  Emma is an experienced economist and has previously held roles as a senior economist at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and as an economic adviser within the Scottish Government.

Ashwin Kumar

Ashwin Kumar is a Professor of Social Policy at Manchester Metropolitan University

Jordan Harrison

Jordan Harrison is a Senior Research Assistant at Manchester Metropolitan University

Knowledge Exchange Associate at the Fraser of Allander Institute

Peter McGregor

Peter McGregor is an Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Strathclyde, and is a former Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute

Kevin is a Chancellor's Fellow in the Department of Economic with a focus on the use of regional economic models for policy analysis. Areas of interest include; energy and climate change, poverty and tourism.

Fiona McHardy

Fiona McHardy is Research and Information manager and is responsible for the overall management and delivery of all research programmes at The Poverty Alliance.

Neil Cowan