Almost a fifth of Scots living in poverty

Poverty web

Poverty groups have said that drastic action is needed to tackle child poverty and to ensure housing is more affordable

22nd March 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

A million people in Scotland are living in poverty, with inequality continuing to rise.

Statistics have shown that 19% of the country’s population was considered to be living in poverty between 2014 and 2017.

Poverty groups have said the figures must act as a wake-up call and underline the case for drastic action.

The statistics, published by the Scottish Government, also show that 8% of people in Scotland are trapped in a cycle of persistent poverty – and that 230,000 children and 140,000 pensioners live below the poverty line.

“It cannot be right that one million people are now living in poverty in Scotland, and that ever more people are having their choices restricted, their opportunities limited, and their efforts to get by made even more difficult,” said Peter Kelly of the Poverty Alliance.

“Low pay, rising living costs, and unstable work mean that, for many, choices between whether to heat their home or pay their rent have become commonplace.”

Kelly added that the Child Poverty Act, introduced last year, set ambitious targets and action would need to be taken to ensure that they are met.

Mark Ballard, Save the Children’s head of Scotland, said that there needs to be major investment made to help youngsters who are born into poverty.

He said: “The forthcoming Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan must commit to a clear focus, action and investment in the crucial early years, where poverty is most concentrated and can have the most damaging impact. 

“This means investing in the people who make the biggest difference to children’s lives – parents and carers, and the early learning and childcare workforce who support children in their early learning.”

The statistics showed that poverty rates for single adult women were higher than for single adult men, that minority ethnic groups were more likely to be poor than white Scots and poverty rates for families with a disabled member were higher than for families without.

Housing costs were a key factor in many families struggling to get by, and Maggie Brunjes, director of Glasgow Homelessness Network, said targeted action is required.

“We know that poverty, particularly childhood poverty, is the most powerful predictor of homelessness in later life,” she said.  “And that we are over eight times more likely to become homeless when our income is under £10,000 per year, than when it is over £20,000.

“This creates its own case for urgency on more targeted action on housing and homelessness in Scotland that directly addresses people's material and financial hardship.”

Equalities secretary Angela Constance said the Scottish Government is taking a number of bold measures to reduce poverty.

“Addressing inequalities is at the core of everything we do to make Scotland a fairer, more equal country,” she said. “These figures show the scale of the challenge we face, which is why we are committed to actions that make life better now as well as driving long-term change. This includes initiatives such as our major expansion of free childcare as well as our investment of over £100 million every year to protect people from the worst impact of UK Government welfare cuts.”