The shocking truth: one million Scots now in poverty

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Campaigners warn work no longer a route out of hardship for hard-pressed families 

16th March 2017 by Robert Armour 5 Comments

One million Scots are now living in poverty, new statistics show.

And campaigners warn more people in paid work are being classified as poor.

The figures, released by the Scottish Government, include 260,000 children, 70% of whom are in households where at least one person is in paid work.

Anti-poverty campaigners have responded to the findings by calling for concerted action by both the UK and Scottish governments to address the growing crisis.

They call on the Scottish Government to use all its new powers to ensure the figures do not turn into long term trends.

This will include using the power to top up benefits that are currently reserved to Westminster.

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, called on the Scottish Government to top up reserved benefits to alleviate the problem.

And, he said, increasing child benefit by £5 per week would help to lift 30,000 children out of poverty and should now be a priority.   

It’s simply wrong that one in four children should find themselves in poverty - Alison Watson

“With a child poverty bill now progressing through parliament, there is a real opportunity to improve the lives of families living on a low income and ensure that this is the last generation to grow up in poverty," Kelly said.  

“At UK level, the prime minister and chancellor have shown this week that they are willing to make u-turns when they think it is necessary.

"These figures provide ample evidence of a need to reverse the cuts that have been made to child benefit, jobseekers allowances, tax credits, which are due to be frozen until the end of this parliament. Freezing these lifeline benefits has had a devastating impact on millions of people."

Alison Watson, deputy director of Shelter Scotland, said the lack of affordable housing was having a huge impact on families and individuals living in Scotland, pushing more into poverty and damaging their wellbeing and life chances – especially children.

“That 170,000 more people have been pushed into poverty because of their housing costs should be yet another alarm bell for the Scottish Government that much more needs to be done right now to tackle Scotland’s housing crisis," she warned. 

“It’s simply wrong that one in four children should find themselves in poverty and that more than one in 10 children have been living with persistent poverty for three or more of the last four years.

“We want to see a step change in the provision of good quality and truly affordable homes being delivered in communities where they are needed across Scotland.

"We also need to protect investment in the housing safety net that helps some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society through very hard times and keeps a roof over their head.”

She added: “Poverty and homelessness are closely linked – it doesn’t take too much to tip a family over the edge into a spiral of debt, arrears and homelessness. 

"A new national strategy on homelessness is needed to tackle the issues fuelling today’s homelessness.”

16th March 2017 by james sayers

in Scotland us scots have always been treated with comtempt always been poorest in the so called the uk

17th March 2017 by William Douglas

We really need to redefine poverty.Has anyone seen 1 million people with no shoes? Has anyone seen one million people in rags? Sitting on the streets begging? OK, extreme, but I am making a point. Can you be 'in poverty' and have a £40 mobile phone contact? A 42 inch TV? Central heating in bedrooms? Receiving benefits of £24,000+?By redefining poverty, we can focus on those who really are in need; those who really need support; those whose health is affected.Giving the least well of more cash does not actually change numbers of people living below the poverty line - it just moves the poverty line up (law of averages)

20th March 2017 by RealFreedom

Follow the money. If there was no poverty there would be no need for organisations dedicated to "reducing poverty", and no need for their staff. So it is in the financial interest of those groups to insist that there is more poverty than there actually is, in order to increase their budgets/staff.

20th March 2017 by Rose Burn

The Labour Party, the Lib Dems and the Greens all wanted to raise taxes in the recent Scottish Budget, the SNP refused to do so. Extra money for those in poverty could easily be raised.

21st March 2017 by Rose Burn

James Sayers, it is sad that so many people live in poverty in Scotland, but so many people live in poverty in other parts of the UK too (think of parts of London or Cornwall or NE England) and other parts of Europe (think of the problem slums outside Paris for example). Scotland is not the poorest part of the UK - as Mr Swinney points out a lot, actually Scotland's incomes are the same as the average of the whole of the UK. It is still the case that if we wish to increase incomes for the poor in Scotland, we have the power to do so through higher taxes - d Holyrood has not agreed to do so.