New Scottish poverty statistics underline case for action, say campaigners

By agency reporter
March 28, 2018

New statistics show that levels of poverty in Scotland have continued to rise in recent years, with anti-poverty campaigners calling for them to be used as a catalyst for increased action to solve poverty. The figures, published by the Scottish Government, show that after housing costs, 19 per cent of Scotland’s population - or 1 million people - were living in poverty in 2014 – 2017.

The Poverty Alliance has responded to the figures by calling for an increased focus on the solutions that can help unlock people from poverty. With the Scottish Government establishing a new social security system and soon to publish a Child Poverty Delivery Plan, The Poverty Alliance has emphasised the opportunities and levers that now exist in Scotland to implement the changes required to ensure that everyone in Scotland has a decent standard of living.

Reducing housing costs is, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, one of the ways of ensuring this change takes place, with the Poverty and Inequality Commission recently identifying it as one of the key mechanisms for making the biggest impact on poverty. Members of the Poverty Alliance involved in providing affordable housing and tackling homelessness have responded to the new figures, outlining the contribution they make to addressing poverty.

Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance, said, “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. 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.

“Last year saw the passing of the Child Poverty Act, and with it came increased hope of a Scotland where people are freed from the grip of poverty. But these statistics serve as a wake-up call. They remind us that if we are to achieve the ambitious targets set by the Act then we must take action now to address the factors that are holding people in poverty.

“Poverty impacts each city, town and community in Scotland, but it needn’t be this way. We all share the goal of solving poverty, and we all seek a Scotland built on justice and compassion. These new figures should strengthen our resolve to make that vision a reality.”

Shona Stephen, Chief Executive of Queens Cross Housing Association said, “As a housing association we see levels of poverty in north Glasgow day in day out, so these latest figures come as no surprise. Our own research tells us that 19 per cent of tenants said at some time they had chosen to miss a meal or eat less because of a lack of money, and that 35 per cent of tenants said that at some time they had chosen not to put the heating on because of fears over costs.”

‘We do what we can to lift our tenants out of poverty by keeping rents low and putting money back in people’s pockets by providing efficient low cost heating systems and energy efficient homes. These statistics show that we all need to be refocusing efforts even more to effectively tackle this blight on our communities.’

Maggie Brunjes, Director of Glasgow Homelessness Network said, “The local geography of affluence and poverty is well recognised across Scotland, while its links with housing and homelessness are stark. One third of Scotland’s poorest households spend one third of their income on housing costs. Making tough choices to keep and heat our homes, including through sinister high cost credit, is more common than should be tolerated in Scotland today.

“We know that poverty, particularly childhood poverty, is the most powerful predictor of homelessness in later life. 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.”

* The Poverty Alliance


Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.