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Families in Scotland could be left struggling if tax credit axe goes ahead, charity warns

Release Date: 06 Jul 2015

49.1% families in Scotland could be left struggling if plans to cut working tax credits* go ahead, Barnardo’s Scotland warns, as it launches a campaign calling on the UK Government to keep the ‘lifeline’ benefit.

Barnardo’s Scotland is urging politicians not to cut tax credits, following signals from the UK Government that it will reduce, with some families possibly losing the benefit completely, these benefits as part of a plan to axe £12bn from the welfare bill.  

It has been widely reported that the UK Government is proposing to cut these vital benefits in this week’s budget. The charity has calculated that 49.1 per cent of families in Scotland (301,600) currently use working tax credits to top up low incomes, helping them buy essentials such as food and clothing for their family.

The charity is campaigning to halt plans to change tax credits. It says the UK Government should instead focus on tackling the low wages and high living costs that drive hardship amongst families. It is asking people in Scotland to email their MP with this message - to support the campaign visit  

Head of Policy for Barnardo’s Scotland, Mark Ballard, said:

The UK Government has promised to improve support for working families so that parents do not have to choose between feeding their families and heating their homes.  

Unfortunately, the reality is increasing numbers of working parents are struggling to stay above the breadline, and any proposed cuts to the benefits they rely on will only make things worse. Low paid parents with dependent children rely on tax credits to make up the difference between what they earn and what they need to get by

The most recent data for Scotland shows that 55 per cent of children in severe poverty lived in working households and 39 per cent lived in households with at least one adult in full-time employment (1).  

Figures show that more than half of children in nine local authorities in Scotland live in families in receipt of tax credits. Over 45 per cent of children in Scotland are reliant on this vital benefit (Table 1). Unsurprisingly the areas with the highest number of children in families in receipt of tax credits are those with higher levels of deprivation and low income. (2)  

Mark Ballard adds:

Families would be better off if the UK Government focused on tackling low wages and high childcare costs, instead of cutting struggling families income.


Notes to editor

* Working tax credits are paid to parents on low income who are working more than 16 hours per week. Child tax credits are paid to those with a low annual income as help with the costs of bringing up a child.

Tax credits, which include child tax credits and working tax credits, were introduced in 1998 as a response to rising child poverty, caused by low wages and high living costs. Since the introduction of tax credits, the number of children living in poverty in the UK has fallen from 35 per cent to 19 per cent. Successive Governments have said the benefit is a crucial tool in keeping thousands of children out of hardship.

  2. Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 2012

Figures for number of children in families in receipt of tax credits by local authority – HMRC (see table 1)


a) Local Authority

b) Children in Famlies in Receipt of Tax Credits

c) Families in Receipt of Tax Credits

d) Percentage of Children in Families in receipt of Tax Credits

e)Percentage of Families with Dependent Children in receipt of Tax Credits

Glasgow City 75,500  44,500  60.6% 68.1%

North Ayrshire 16,800  9,700  55.9% 57.6%

West Dunbartonshire 11,100  6,600  55.7% 59.0%

Dundee City 17,200  10,000  54.2% 62.1%

Inverclyde 9,000  5,400  53.3% 55.8%

Dumfries and Galloway 16,100  8,800  52.6% 53.0%

Clackmannanshire 6,000  3,400  52.1% 54.2%

East Ayrshire 14,000  8,200  52.0% 54.9%

North Lanarkshire 40,600  23,200  50.6% 52.8%

Fife 39,800  22,200  48.3% 51.4%

Renfrewshire 17,800  10,500  46.9% 50.0%

South Ayrshire 10,700  6,300  46.8% 49.5%

Midlothian 9,500  5,400  46.7% 52.3%

South Lanarkshire 32,200  18,800  46.5% 49.0%

West Lothian 20,200  11,300  46.1% 48.3%

Scottish Borders 11,100  6,000  46.1% 47.6%

Argyll and Bute 7,900  4,300  44.9% 45.9%

Falkirk 15,700  9,000  44.0% 46.5%

Highland 22,100  12,000  43.9% 45.1%

Angus 10,700  6,000  42.6% 44.9%

East Lothian 9,800  5,500  41.4% 44.7%

Eilean Siar 2,300  1,200  41.3% 40.3%

Perth and Kinross 12,700  7,200  40.5% 44.4%

Orkney Islands 1,800  900  40.1% 39.0%

Moray 8,200  4,400  38.6% 40.7%

City of Edinburgh 36,000  21,400  36.8% 44.7%

Stirling 7,100  4,000  33.5% 39.4%

Aberdeen City 13,500  8,100  30.7% 36.4%

East Dunbartonshire 7,200  4,000  30.5% 31.5%

Shetland Islands 1,600  800  29.6% 29.5%

East Renfrewshire 6,500  3,700  28.3% 31.6%

Aberdeenshire 15,500  8,500  25.7% 27.5%

Scotland  526,000  301,600  45.2%  49.1%

Barnardo’s Scotland works with more than 26,500 children and young people in over 122 specialised community-based services across Scotland and has 81 shops raising funds to support our services.  Our work includes: fostering and adoption services and support; helping children break free from sexual exploitation; supporting young carers; helping young people in to employment and helping children living in poverty.

Visit to find out how you can get involved and show you believe in children.  Twitter: @BarnardosScot  Facebook: Barnardo’s Scotland.

Media enquiries:

Barnardo’s Scotland Katrina Slater media office – Barnardo’s Scotland; telephone 0131 446 7022 or 020 8 498 7555 (24 hours) email

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