The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) has expressed alarm that a generation of Scottish children could continue to live in poverty and be unable to realise their full potential.
The Scottish Government has set ambitious targets to tackle child poverty by 2030 but meeting them depends on a range of services delivered by local authorities and their partners.
However, COSLA has pointed out that ringfenced funding to improve attainment has come at the expense of the services which underpin how local authorities can tackle root causes of child poverty. Youth work, family support, and financial advice for families are all at risk as a result of successive decreases to the local government settlement.
However, the funding provided to local authorities by the Scottish Government has been decimated in recent years with overall Local Government revenue funding down in real terms by -7% between 2013-14 and 2019-20. In comparison, the Scottish Government’s total revenue funding (from Westminster) has only reduced by -2% over the same period.
COSLA Resources Spokesperson Councillor Gail Macgregor said:
“In supporting families and addressing persistent, intergenerational issues, Councils play a unique role at all stages of our lives.
“This is why the risks of not investing in local government are too great. We risk allowing an entire generation of children to grow up in poverty, unable to realise their full potential. Homelessness, persistent unemployment and hunger are all potential social costs as a result of declining budgets.
“Tackling child poverty needs a joined-up, long term approach across all spheres of government. This will allow local authorities to make valuable local connections across services and focus on early intervention and prevention.”
Chief Executive of Scotland’s children’s charity Aberlour Sally Ann Kelly said:
“It is imperative that adequate funding is provided to Local Authorities and Third Sector partners to tackle problems early and ensure Scottish children and families are able to prosper and live lives free from poverty and the associated harm caused. We must review funding allocation processes to ensure Local Authorities can prevent avoidable harm to the families involved.
“Vital grassroots services such as family support and youth work have seen very significant cuts, yet we know they provide a lifeline for many of our most vulnerable citizens. If we can better support children and families early, we know they can thrive rather than see their difficulties escalate.
“Aberlour is calling on Scottish Government to Provide a transitional fund that will support local authorities to deliver early intervention family support services, as well as continue to provide specialist support for children and families most affected by poverty and inequality. As well as a commitment from the Scottish Government and public authorities to develop a family and child wellbeing approach to budget setting and economic planning that ensures public spending prioritises family and child wellbeing. We look forward to working with COSLA and the Scottish Government to tackle these important issues.”
Chief Executive of the Coalition of Care and Support Providers (CCSP) Annie Gunner Logan said:
“The number of children living in poverty continues to rise in Scotland with serious long term implications for our children, young people and their families. Such disadvantage causes mental health issues, poor educational attainment, instability at home and difficulty in earning enough to break the cycle.
“Yet it is not inevitable. With the right action and bold investment this can be turned around.
“Third sector organisations have long been the trusted partners of local government in efforts to tackle child poverty, bringing our resources, experience and expertise to bear in the care & support of thousands of children and families across Scotland. As such, we understand the critical importance of the local government settlement.
“We call for the lived experience of children and families in poverty to be at the heart of the review; and for vision and ambition to be backed up by adequate funding, both for local government and for its third sector partners, to enable children, young people and their families to access the right support at the right time.”