Page last updated at 00:07 GMT, Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Child poverty 'unacceptably high'

The charity said some parents could not cover essential costs

The number of children living in poverty in Scotland remains at an "unacceptably high" level, a leading charity has said.

Save the Children found 95,000 young people, almost 10% of all children in Scotland, were living with families that had less than £33-a-day to spend.

It also warned that the recession was likely to make the situation worse.

The charity found the poorest families were, on average, £113-a-week short of enough money to cover essential costs.

In its report, "Severe Child Poverty in Scotland 2010", Save the Children found that youngsters in single parent households were about three times more likely to live in severe poverty.

We are absolutely outraged that so many children have to go without essentials - we're talking about winter coats and proper shoes, real basics that families just can't afford
Douglas Hamilton
Save the Children

More than two thirds of those included in the figures lived in families where no adults worked.

The charity described government promises to end child poverty by 2020 as "increasingly hollow" and called for Scottish ministers to extend free childcare to more low income families.

Douglas Hamilton, Save the Children's programme director in Scotland, said: "We are absolutely outraged that so many children have to go without essentials - we're talking about winter coats and proper shoes, real basics that families just can't afford.

"The government has failed to focus its attention on the children who need help the most.

"We need support on a radically bigger scale to be targeted at those living in severe poverty so they can get back into work."

'Simply unacceptable'

Mr Hamilton added: "Without that focus the government will continue to tread water on tackling the unacceptably high numbers of children whose lives are being destroyed by poverty."

In response, Communities Minister Alex Neil acknowledged that the figures were "simply unacceptable" but reiterated the government's pledge to end child poverty by 2020.

He said: "In Scotland we are leading the way with home-grown policies including providing free school meals, school clothing grants and expanding the Energy Assistance Package to lift greater numbers of families with children out of fuel poverty.

"We are also continuing to press the UK government for significant additional investment in the benefits and tax credits system and to push for reform of these systems so that parents are better supported to take up jobs and remain in stable employment."



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