MSPs have unanimously backed a new child poverty bill that will make Scotland the only part of the UK to have statutory targets to reduce, and ultimately wipe out, the scandal of children growing up in deprivation.

The legislation sets an initial target of cutting the number of children in relative poverty to less than 10 per cent by 2030, and in absolute poverty to less than five per cent.

That’s also the deadline for less than five per cent of children to live in households that are in combined low-income and material deprivation, and less than five per cent of children to live in households that are in persistent poverty.

The Bill requires ministers to set out “delivery plans” detailing what action they will take to tackle child poverty, and to give an annual report detailing progress.

Currently, 22 per cent of children live in a household in relative poverty, while 21 per cent live in a household in absolute poverty.

Speaking during the debate, Equalities Secretary Angela Constance said the targets would not be easy to meet.

“The scale of the challenge we face is profound: the biggest increase in child poverty since the 1960s. I don’t know about anyone else in this chamber but that certainly keeps me awake at night.”

The Bill also places a duty on local authorities and health boards to report annually on what they are doing to contribute to reducing child poverty, and will establish a Poverty and Inequality Commission.

Speaking after Holyrood backed the Bill, Constance said: “With one in four children living in poverty, we need to take urgent action – both to help those children who are living in poverty now, and to prevent future generations of children growing up in poverty.”

LibDem Alex Cole-Hamilton said the Bill passing was a starting point:“Having worked in and alongside charities and groups campaigning to end child poverty all of my adult life, I’m pleased that so many of these great organisations have influenced this Bill, pressing the Government to move a considerable distance.

“Alongside efforts to address the financial health of our nations’ families, we must not forget the more insidious poverty of aspiration, where children growing up in families that have experienced generations of unemployment and economic inactivity do not seek social mobility for themselves and the unique challenges faced by the 15,000 children in our care system.

“This Bill sets out targets as a destination, it is up to us now to book both passage and the means of travel and ensure that the goals set out in this Bill are achieved.”

The Greens amended the Bill, forcing ministers in their delivery plans to say if they will increase Child Benefit.

MSP Alison Johnstone said: “By 2020, it is projected that Child Benefit will have lost almost a third of its value compared to 2010, but a £5 a week top-up would lift 30,000 children out of poverty.”

John Dickie, Director of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland welcomed the progress and the cross party consensus.

“This is a hugely welcome step in the fight to end child poverty in Scotland. We are delighted that in today’s vote all the political parties at Holyrood have recognised that child poverty is unacceptable, that it is not inevitable and that it can be eradicated.”

The unanimous support for child poverty targets and national delivery plans, would, he added, create an “important springboard for the action and investment that is now needed”.