Poverty Introduction

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, child poverty in Glasgow was significant with 1 in 3 families living in relative poverty (approximately 36,000 children). In some parts of the City, the level of child poverty was as high as 45%. It has been estimated that at least 2,510 more children in Glasgow are living in poverty since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The current cost of living crisis presents an additional ongoing challenge to families across Glasgow, with many struggling to make ends meet. We know poverty at any stage in life can lead to negative outcomes.

The reasons why families with children are in poverty can vary, and arise from different circumstances and life events. 

Hearing from children and young people

A consultation with children and young people has influenced the new 'Glasgow City Integrated Children’s Services Plan 2020 - 2023'. This video shares some of the important things they have said about poverty. 


Poverty Health and Wellbeing Information

Poverty damages health and poor health increases the risk of poverty. The current cost of living crisis is likely to have a significant impact on health and wellbeing. This will put more pressure on statutory and non-statutory services as people reach out for help. 

Poverty can have negative effects on health including lower levels of social, behavioural and cognitive development. Poverty can also lead to behavioural and emotional problems. Children from lower income households are more likely than children from more affluent households to experience behavioural and emotional problems.  There are strong links between child poverty and poor mental health. Some studies suggest that children living in low-income households are nearly three times more likely to suffer mental health problems than their affluent peers.  Regarding school leaver attainment, minority ethnic groups tend to perform better than their white peers. Unemployment rate amongst the Black and Minority Ethnic community is double the rate for White people. Black people in the UK are more likely to live in poverty, earn less, receive lower university qualifications, and less likely to own their own home.


The infographic below highlights some key data from Scotland's School Health and Wellbeing Census 2021/22 in relation to pupils in Glasgow and their experiences of poverty.

Poverty and Education

The poverty-related attainment gap remains wide and existing inequalities have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. There is a gap in children and young people’s educational attainment by parental income across all stages of education. Pupils in the top performing schools are less likely to be eligible for free school meals when compared to lower performing schools across Scotland. 80% of the top performing schools are located in the most affluent areas in Scotland. The current cost of living crisis will likely further widen the attainment gap.

How can poverty affect children and young people’s education?  Poverty can impact child development, can affect readiness for school, can affect social skill development, can make children and young people less likely to believe that school results are important in life, and can affect future life prospects.


There are some developments in Glasgow City that aim to close the attainment gap. Including:

Financial Inclusion Support Officer (FISO) Project

Glasgow City Council are currently running a Financial Inclusion Support Officer project aimed at embedding Financial Inclusion support into a school setting. The foundations of this project were based very much on listening to parents and community groups with lived experience of poverty and using data that the council has to identify need and gaps in service. The project aims to look at new ways to tackle child poverty initially targeting two of the three main drivers of Child poverty, the cost of living and maximising entitlement from social security benefits. For more information on FISO Support click here

Clothing Grants and Free School Meals

There is support for eligible families from Glasgow city Council to access clothing grants and free school meals. Including during the Spring Break, Find out more here

Priorities for Poverty Work

In Scotland, there is a focus on families most at risk of poverty. Priority groups include: 

  • lone parents
  • families with a disabled adult or child
  • mothers under the age of 25
  • minority ethnic families
  • households with 3 or more children
  • households where there is a child under the age of 1


The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 requires the Scottish Government to reduce the number of children who live in poverty.  Scotland has outlined the following targets:

The targets for the year 2030 are: Less than 10% of children living in families in relative poverty, i.e. on low incomes, compared to the average UK household. Less than 5% of children living in families in absolute poverty, i.e. low income households where living standards are not increasing. Less than 5% of children living in families in combined low income and material deprivation, i.e. low income households who can’t afford basic essential goods and services. Less than 5% of children living in families in persistent poverty, i.e. in households in poverty for three years out of four.

In work poverty

Work is expected to be a route out of poverty, as highlighted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. For many families, having someone in work is not proving enough as 77% of children in poverty are from unemployed households.

According to the Poverty and Inequality Commission, 60% of working age adults in poverty and 65% of children in poverty live in a household where someone is in employment. Households in working poverty are more likely to have young children than the general population. The ability of parents to increase their working hours is likely to be dependent on availability of flexible working and affordable childcare.

The Three ‘Drivers of Poverty’ 

There is a strong evidence base that helps us to understand the 'drivers' of child poverty - in other words, the reasons why so many families with children are in poverty. These can vary markedly by household, and derive from different circumstances and life events. However, at their core, the direct drivers of poverty fall into three main categories - income from employment, costs of living, and income from social security.  

A range of policies and initiatives have been introduced in attempt to positively impact on these three drivers, with a particular focus on the 6 priority family types who are at higher risk of poverty.   

Further information can be found here

Glasgow City Food Plan and a 'Cash First' approach

The Glasgow City Food Plan outlines ‘Fair Food for All’ as one of the priorities, this looks at addressing barriers to food insecurity and identifying and scaling up good practice in the city to support those in need of assistance. From 2024, Glasgow will be involved in a Scottish Government funded ‘Cash First’ approach pilot to enable further capacity building, enhanced sharing of practice/referral pathways and learning. Find out more about the 'Cash First' approach here

Poverty Resources

Educator resources

Cost of the Nursery Day

The Cost of the Nursery Day project aimed to identify poverty-related barriers to learning and participation in nurseries, and to develop ways to overcome them. The project was delivered in 2019 and involved working with parents and carers to understand their lived experience of how Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) policies and practices can affect low income households. It also involved working with ELC staff to explore the role of the nursery in reducing the effects of poverty on families. 

For more information on the Cost of the Nursery Day project, click here  to access the full report.

Cost of the School Day

The Cost of the School Day helps all children and young people to take part and be happy at school. When children and young people can't take part in opportunities because of cost, they miss out and feel excluded, and it is harder for them to learn, achieve and be happy at school. For more information on Cost of the School Day including the toolkit, short films and supporting resources, visit the Child Poverty Action Group website here  

Talking about Costs and Money at School

Talking about school costs and money can be challenging but doing it well helps to break down financial barriers to education and makes sure families get the support they need.  When schools communicate well about costs, entitlements and wider financial support, it takes pressure off families, puts money in their pockets and helps children and young people take part at school. But we know that this isn’t always straightforward.

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) and the National Parent Forum of Scotland have brought together experiences and suggestions from over 1800 parents and carers across Scotland into an animation and a practical resource for schools.  Please see this animation below.

The practical resource, 'Talking about Costs and Money', is split into five simple steps which are all designed to open up or enhance a whole school conversation about costs and money. As well as great advice from parents, the resource contains a range of case studies from schools working hard to get this right for their families. To view this resource, click here  to visit the CPAG website.


General resources and information

Benefits and grants

Information on benefits, funds and grants, including the Scottish Child Payment and Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods, can be found by clicking here 

Citizen’s Advice (Scotland)

Citizen's Advice offer advice on work, benefits and lots more. Find out more here  

Citizens Advice Scotland's Money Map

Citizens Advice Scotland's Money Map can help you find sources of online support to:  

  • Increase your income  
  • Reduce your bills  
  • Ease the costs of daily living 

Access Money Map here 

Cost of Living Support Website

Scottish Government has launched a new website in response to the current cost of living crisis. The website brings together in one place information on support, grants, benefits and advice, in order to help people find what support they may be entitled to. You can access the website here 

Glasgow City HSCP Cost of Living Support Guide 

This directory provides easy access to available supports across Glasgow, clearly presented under the following themes: Holistic Supports, Food Supports, Money Advice Supports, Energy and Fuel Supports, Crisis Supports, Specific Population, Housing/Legal Supports, Practical Supports, Mental Health Supports, Support Directories and Helpline Supports. Click here  to access the guide. 

Home Energy Scotland

Home Energy Scotland helps people in Scotland create warmer homes, reduce energy bills, and lower carbon footprints. They are funded by the Scottish Government and managed by Energy Saving Trust link. Visit their website by clicking here

NHS Inform

Provides helpful information about coping with money worries including how to feel more positive and financial support services. Please click here  to access the website.

Poverty: Our Hidden Shame Film and Resource Pack 

‘Poverty: Our Hidden Shame’ film and resource pack explores the impact of poverty in local communities. It was co-produced by young people in Govan, Glasgow and was short-listed at BAFTA for the AHRC Inspiration Award 2016. You can access the film and resource pack here 

Public Health Scotland Child Poverty Learning Hub   

The hub is aimed at those working in local authorities, the NHS, HSCPs and the third sector, and anyone interested in reducing child poverty in Scotland. The hub is pitched at foundation level. The hub is free and can be accessed through the PHS Virtual Learning Environment. Click here to access the hub. 

Rights Respecting School Resources – UNICEF 

UNICEF provide a wide range of resources to support teaching and learning about children’s rights in your classroom. You can access the resources here 

Scottish Attainment Challenge 

The Scottish Attainment Challenge is about achieving equity in educational outcomes, with a particular focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap. Resources and information are available here 

Social Security Scotland Resources

Social Security Scotland have a range of resources available here

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation 

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is an independent social change organisation working to solve UK poverty. Their website has a wide range of information and resources on child poverty. You can access it here 

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – Poverty 

Eradicating extreme poverty for all people everywhere by 2030 is a pivotal goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A range of facts, videos and further links are available here 

Worrying About Money? Cash First Referrals

'Worrying About Money?' cash first referral leaflets are co-designed as straightforward resources both for people facing money worries and support workers. The step-by-step guides identify which local agencies are best placed to help people maximise income and access any existing financial entitlements. All advice available in English, Slovakian, Spanish, Polish, Arabic, Urdu, Romanian, and Farsi. Click here to find out more and access the leaflets. 

Poverty Strategy/Policy Links

The Glasgow City HSCP Health Improvement Team have pulled together a list of key strategy and policy links regarding children and young people. These documents should be used to inform planning and delivery within your classroom and school community.

These documents are a useful resource to build a knowledge base around current priorities and work around poverty in Glasgow and across Scotland. Please note that clicking on these documents will take you to external websites.

Best Start, Bright Futures: tackling child poverty delivery plan 2022 to 2026

Child Poverty Action Group: The Cost of a Child In Scotland 2022

Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017

Child Poverty: Recovering from the COVID 19 Pandemic

Fairer Scotland Action Plan

Glasgow’s Local Child Poverty Action Report 2021/22

Life Chances of Young People in Scotland: Evidence Review

Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2022-26

The Cost of Living Crisis in Scotland: Analytical Report (Nov 22)

Editorial Information

Last reviewed: 31/03/2023