Scotland politics

More children in Scotland living in poverty, report says

Child in Glasgow Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The number of children living in poverty in Scotland had risen since last year, the commission said

The number of children in Scotland living in poverty has risen by 60,000 over the last year, according to a new report.

The social mobility and child poverty commission said Scotland had lost its position as the country with the lowest levels of child poverty in the UK.

However, Scotland had a lower level of relative poverty after housing costs.

The report called on the Scottish government to widen access to higher education for disadvantaged pupils.

The Scottish government should have a target of 10% of the most deprived school pupils getting places at the most selective, "ancient" universities, the commission recommended.

Annual report

The State of the Nation 2014 report is the second annual publication from the commission, which was established under the Child Poverty Act 2010.

Its findings showed there were 180,000 children in relative poverty in Scotland - 30,000 more than last year - while 200,000 children were in absolute poverty - also up 30,000 on the previous year.

The report also pointed to a forecast from think tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which suggested 50,000 more children could be in relative poverty by 2020.

The authors defined relative poverty as living in a household with less than 60% of the contemporary median income, while absolute poverty applied to households with less than 60% of the median income as it stood in 2010-11.

Despite the increase in the numbers living in poverty, the report said that "progress in Scotland has been more rapid than elsewhere in the UK, particularly when looking at poverty after housing costs".

Scotland has a lower level of relative poverty before housing costs than Wales and Northern Ireland, but about the same as England.

After housing costs Scotland had a lower level of relative poverty than the other UK nations.

Scotland also had a lower level of absolute poverty before housing costs than England, Wales or Northern Ireland and "a considerably lower level of poverty after housing costs".

Higher education

The proportion of pupils entering higher education from the most advantaged areas was 32.5%, compared to 9.7% in the most disadvantaged areas.

The percentages entering the highly selective "ancient universities" were 7.6% from deprived areas versus 16.9% from non-deprived areas.

The report added: "The Scottish government should also review the total financial support package for the most disadvantaged undergraduate and postgraduate students, particularly in relation to recent reductions in maintenance grants."

The commission said there were 2.3 million children in poverty across the UK, and the UK government will fail to meet a target to reduce child poverty by half by 2020.

Former Labour minister Alan Milburn, who chairs the commission, told the BBC there was a risk that young people "simply do not have the opportunity to progress".

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