In 2017 the Scottish Government passed an act to significantly reduce child poverty across Scotland. By 2030 there is a target to ensure that less than 10% of children are living in relative poverty. As Glasgow made steps to start solving this highly complex issue it was clear that Glasgow didn’t have an accurate picture of child poverty in the city therefore couldn’t begin solving the problem. Working in partnership with Glasgow City Councils Financial Inclusion team, The Centre for Civic Innovation set out the aim of discovering: How many children in Glasgow are living in households experiencing relative poverty.
As a team we undertook substantial research to understand the subject – through desk research, client interviews and workshops we gained the knowledge we required to start understanding the questions the Financial Inclusion team wanted us to answer with data.
Over 6 months our data scientists took a deep dive into the data Glasgow City Council holds on Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction recipients, as well as bringing in data around kinship care and education benefits.
This resulted in the creation of the Child Poverty in Glasgow Report in 2020 which is the Scotland’s most accurate picture of Child Poverty in Glasgow. Sandra McDermott claimed “This was the first time Glasgow or any Local Authority had real data on child poverty levels in their area… This work is ground breaking not only in Glasgow but across Scotland and would not be possible without the work, expertise and innovation of the Centre for Civic Innovation.”
By March 2020 we were beginning to understand the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic was having in Glasgow and across the world. As it continued, it became clear that there would be new issues created from the effect being felt in our neighbourhoods. It’s vital that we continue to understand how COVID-19 has impacted the priority groups laid out in the Scottish Governments “Every Child, Every Chance” report and identify the new groups who have suffered. Through working in partnership with the Financial Inclusion team at Glasgow City Council we updated the report to include the questions asked in the updated brief and due to the work done in the original brief we can not only see the real time impact COVID-19 is having on the city and where support should be targeted, but also compare and contrast it to Glasgow’s pre-pandemic child poverty landscape.
From the evidence we gathered to gain a better understanding of Child Poverty we now know that 26% of children in the city are living in relative poverty. In addition to this it is now understood that, on average households with children experiencing relative poverty are living £115 per week below the poverty line. As part of the original brief we were asked to provide insight into the priority groups that would require support, one of these groups was single parent households. We understand that almost 2/3 of children experiencing relative poverty in Glasgow come from a single parent household. These statistics show that there is a lot of work to do in order to achieve the Scottish governments targets and the CCI are looking to co-design solutions in response.
This work allowed us to understand that there was a significant gap in the uptake of education benefits, such as free school meals or the School Clothing Grant. This coupled with the Financial Inclusion teams engagement with people with lived experience of the issues affecting families in poverty led to the creation of the Financial Inclusion Support Officers pilot project. This pilot project sees 9 Financial Inclusion Support Officers embedded in secondary schools in Glasgow where they work to support financially vulnerable parents to ensure that their family has all the support they need.
In June The Centre for Civic Innovation and The Financial Inclusion hosted an event to launch the Understanding Child Poverty in Glasgow and continue our fight to eradicate child poverty. The online launch brought together practitioners and colleagues as we shared our work and shared the insight gathered which will be available to view in the near future. As part of our workshop we were able to host an interactive workshop, in which we split into teams to discuss several themes around the priorities and challenges of child poverty. This is just the first step towards building a city-wide design led-ecosystem to tackle this complex challenge.
Since producing and launching this report Glasgow City Councils Understanding Child Poverty in Glasgow work has been shortlisted for two awards in the CCLA /Room 151 Impact Awards. The categories the work has been nominated for are: Adult social care, children’s services & education and Innovation & Partnership.