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Poverty's grip is less in Scotland than UK but still affects 1.1 million

This news post is 6 months old

Scottish child payment has reduced poverty

New research shows one in five Scots are living in poverty.

That equates to 1.1million people or 21% of the adult population.

However Scotland’s lower child poverty rate of 24% – compared to 31% in England and 28% in Wales – was attributed to the Scottish child payment, which provides low-income families with £25 a week for each child.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) which conducted the research said this shows the effect benefits can have in reducing poverty.

JRF associate director for Scotland Chris Birt said politicians at Westminster had a responsibility to do more to help tackle poverty north of the border.

Speaking as the organisation’s UK Poverty 2024 report was published, Mr Birt said: “The UK Government has significant power and a duty to ease hardship in Scotland. They cannot wash their hands of responsibility just because it is shared with Holyrood.

“With hundreds of thousands of people in Scotland struggling to make ends meet, people need both of their governments to grasp their responsibility to act.”

He added: “As this report shows, the UK government could, however, be accused of shirking its responsibility because it is ignoring the basic fact that people cannot afford the essentials of food, heating and others, through social security.”

Birt insisted the Universal Credit benefit was “failing if it can’t fulfil its purpose to help people in their toughest times”.

Glasgow City Council area has the highest child poverty rate in Scotland at 32% – ahead of North Ayrshire (29%) and Clackmannanshire and West Dunbartonshire (both 28%).

In contrast, East Renfrewshire has the lowest child poverty rate in Scotland, with just 14% of youngsters in the area affected.

Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “I agree with the conclusion that the UK Government is shirking its responsibility to help people struggling in the cost-of-living crisis.

“That is why we have repeatedly called on the UK government to introduce an essentials guarantee, to ensure the value of the Universal Credit payment is always enough for people to meet their basic needs and that vulnerable people are properly supported.

“Unlike the UK government, we are targeting resources at those most in need as we work to tackle poverty and protect people from harm. Despite cuts to our block grant, we are investing an extra £1 billion in social security.

“This extra support will ensure all our benefits, including those only available in Scotland, keep pace with inflation to help low-income families pay their bills and heat their homes.

“The report also recognises that the Scottish Child Payment is having an impact on efforts to tackle poverty. The Scottish Government estimates it is lifting 50,000 children out of relative poverty in 2023/24, reducing child poverty levels by five percentage points, according to the most recent modelling published in June 2023.”