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Poverty in Scotland 2020

Work, social security and housing costs are vital to solving poverty in Scotland, as the coronavirus storm is sweeping many people into poverty and others deeper into poverty.

Written by:
Deborah Hay
Date published:

What you need to know

  • Even before coronavirus, around a million people in Scotland were in poverty, living precarious and insecure lives.
  • The Scottish Government is committed to tackling poverty, but poverty has been rising and we are not on course to meet interim child poverty targets within three years. The relative child poverty target requires a fall of a quarter in the proportion of children in poverty compared to the latest data, which has increased compared to five years previously. The picture for other groups over the last five years is similarly disappointing, with no change in poverty for working-age adults and an increase for pensioners.
  • We need stronger support at the UK level to retain as many jobs as possible. Both the UK and Scottish Governments need to strengthen training support quickly for those whose jobs disappear and key employment programmes in Scotland like the Parental Employment Support Fund should be increased and extended across the lifetime of the next parliament (2021-26).
  • The UK Government must retain the uplift to the standard allowances in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit and extend this to key legacy benefits.
  • While it may not be possible to extend Scottish Child Payment to eligible school-age children before 2022, the Scottish Government and COSLA should use local government payment channels as an interim alternative.
  • The UK Government must keep the increase in the Local Housing Allowance and review the adequacy of support available to low income and struggling homeowners. The Scottish Government must commit fully to an Affordable Housing Supply Programme that will create 53,000 new affordable homes, 70% of which should be for social rent. They should be prepared to step in with additional legislative support and further help with housing costs, if the existing support for renters proves insufficient to keep them in their homes. The Scottish Government should evaluate all their investment in housing for its impact on reducing child poverty and supporting equality groups.
  • The interim child poverty targets must be a strong focus of both political and public will as we shape economic and social recovery. Longer term, we need to prevent more people being pulled into poverty and open up routes out of poverty. Bold action by both the Scottish and UK governments across work, housing and social security will need to be matched by commitment from employers, housing providers, public services and the third sector. Scotland’s recovery, if it is to be successful, must be shaped directly by those with experience of living in poverty, at every stage, as equal partners.