Includem has released new research to mark Challenge Poverty Week
Covid-19 is hitting Scotland’s poorest families hardest, new research has shown.
Scottish youth and family support charity Includem has called for action to help families struggling in poverty.
Includem has today (6 October) released a report on poverty and the impact coronavirus is having on young people and families they support.
The research found nearly half of families struggle to put food on the table, rising to 60% for those on social security. Meanwhile, over half of all families and two-thirds of families receiving social security reported regular issues paying heating bills. The increased dependence on digital technology was also a struggle for families, with almost half of families surveyed struggle regularly to afford internet costs.
Chief executive Martin Dorchester said: “We support some of the poorest and most marginalised young people and families in Scotland. We knew that coronavirus was going to hit them the hardest, and this research has sadly confirmed this.
“Two thirds of the young people and families reliant on social security told us they were in a worse financial position than they were pre-pandemic, and a staggering 82% said their mental health was worse than this time last year.”
Includem works closely with children, young people, and their families, who are facing difficult challenges in their lives. The charity asked families what their experiences of meeting day-to-day costs has been like over the past 12 months and what impact Covid-19 has had on them.
Dr Briege Nugent, independent research consultant and honorary Research Fellow at the University of Salford, was involved in preparing the research.
He said: “Includem's ongoing research with families provides an important platform for their voices to be heard, and this study highlights that poverty remains the most prominent and persistent issue families are dealing with, and are confronted with a daily struggle to even be able to afford the basics. Covid-19 has made the financial situation all the more worse and the adverse impact on mental health is especially clear.”
The charity has released the report as part of Challenge Poverty Week, a nationwide initiative to raise awareness of the impact of poverty in Scotland.
Dorchester added that the report highlighted the need to not ignore those families who were living in poverty long before the pandemic.
He saidL “This pandemic did not create the level of entrenched poverty we are facing. However, Covid-19 has highlighted that we are still denying families their basic needs by making them prioritise food over heat, or rent over transport. We continue to stigmatise our children by only providing basic essentials. We still make life hard for people by not supporting them more financially.
“What our families need is an income sufficient to meet their basic needs, access to healthy and nutritious food, affordable housing and public transport, and access to digital services as a public good. Scottish Government needs to provide families and communities with this now - not next year or over the next five years, but now.”