Poverty is a high priority for Scottish voters

6th Apr 2021

Significantly reducing poverty should be a priority for the next Scottish Government. Public will, support for bold action, and parliament's own targets mean we can turn the tide on poverty in Scotland.

The next Scottish Government must act

Regardless of age or politics, tackling poverty is a high priority for three-quarters of Scottish voters.

A majority of voters think the next Scottish Government should do more to reduce poverty and that this is only possible with changes to our current services and economy.

To meet public will and act on poverty, read our 5 policies for tackling poverty in Scotland.

  • 72% of adults in Scotland said poverty was a high priority for the next Scottish Government
  • 73% believe that poverty can be reduced
  • 63% believe that the Government could do more to act on poverty
  • Only 11% believe poverty can be reduced with our current public services and economy

This polling was completed by YouGov for JRF. Read our full report on the results of this polling.

Parties that wish to resonate with the public’s concerns and values must put a plan to tackle Scotland’s stubbornly high poverty levels at the heart of their campaign.
Chris Birt, JRF Deputy Director of Scotland

Voters support major changes

People in Scotland believe there is a need for major change to tackle poverty. Our polling asked what policy changes would be supported or opposed.

Setting a floor no-one should fall below

77% of adults in Scotland supported a minimum income guarantee. We defined this as the State guaranteeing that your income does not fall below a certain level. 12% opposed this intervention.

This was the most supported intervention by people who did not know how they were going to vote.

Increasing benefits

72% of people supported increasing the level of benefits for people at greater risk of poverty (such as single parents or disabled people).

71% of people supported increasing the level of benefits for families with children in poverty.

65% of people supported increasing the level of all benefits closer to the cost of living.

Universal Basic Income

49% of people supported a Universal Basic Income. We defined this as a flat payment that everyone receives regardless of income or employment.

Parliament’s commitment to reducing child poverty

In 2017 each party in the Scottish Parliament agreed to ambitious targets to tackle child poverty. We are currently on course to miss these targets.

Nearly three quarters of voters support increasing benefits for families with children in poverty. Our analysis shows that we can release 60,000 children from poverty’s grip in the next 3 years.

Each of the parties’ manifestos will have to significantly raise ambitions to meet Parliament’s targets. It is vital that we embrace this challenge.

Meeting these targets is possible

Our modelling shows that Scotland’s Child Poverty targets can be met. The next Scottish Government must:

  • Make housing more affordable
  • Get people into better jobs
  • Increase social security.

Our analysis and modelling show that to meet the interim child poverty targets by 2023/24 we will have to increase social security spending. This spending can be reduced by improving the affordability of housing, and parents’ incomes from work. These actions will put Scotland on course to meet the 2030 Child Poverty targets. To be credible in meeting the interim targets any plan to do so must include at least doubling the Scottish Child Payment (it is currently £10 per week per child).

How Scotland’s Child Poverty targets can be met

Scottish voters want action on child poverty

71% of adults in Scotland support increasing the level of benefits for families with children in poverty.

Missing our Child Poverty targets would represent a significant failure to build the better Scotland we want to see and leave tens of thousands of children without the basics that we should all be able to take for granted.

The next Scottish Government must show a serious commitment to improving the lives of thousands of children in Scotland.