Poverty in Scotland publication highlights poverty challenges

23 March 2016

GCU's Professor John McKendrick

GCU's Professor John McKendrick

One in five children in Scotland are living in poverty, according to an influential report published by the Child Poverty Action Group in association with The Open University in Scotland, Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) and the Poverty Alliance.

'Poverty in Scotland 2016' is a unique publication drawing together the knowledge of academics, anti-poverty campaigners and other experts to inform the terms of debate in the run up to the Scottish Parliament elections, and set out how taxation, social security, health, housing and education have been used to tackle poverty in recent years.

The study found that 940,000 people in Scotland still live in poverty (18% of the population) and 210,000 children in Scotland live in poverty (22% of all children). However Scotland’s, and the UK’s,  place in European child poverty league tables has improved markedly since Poverty in Scotland in 2011, reflecting significant investment in child and family benefits between the mid-1990s and 2011.

John McKendrick, Professor at Glasgow Caledonian University, editor and author of the evidence review chapters in Poverty in Scotland 2016, said: “Although evidence about the nature and scale of poverty in contemporary Scotland paints a bleak portrait, there is much that we can do as citizens, and everyday decision-makers in businesses, third sector and community organisations, and local and Scottish Government to use the resources at our disposal to create a fairer Scotland in which the potential of our most disadvantaged is not limited by poverty. 

“We had set ourselves the challenge of eradicating child poverty by 2020, but with an estimated 210,000 children in Scotland living with poverty in 2016, we now need to ask ourselves; ‘Are we prepared to fail more than one-fifth of Scotland’s children, or are we going to do better and do more to rid Scotland of this shame?’ ”

The publication will be launched at an event today (Wednesday 23), hosted by The Open University in Scotland, at which Cabinet Secretary Alex Neil, Scottish Labour’s Ken Macintosh and Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Greens will be among leading politicians responding to the findings and the implications for the next Scottish Parliament.

John Dickie, Director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, said: “Despite the challenging circumstances, the authors of Poverty in Scotland 2016 are all absolutely clear that here in Scotland, government, employers and civil society have significant levers that can be used to transform Scotland toward a poverty free country. Powers to create more progressive taxes, to enhance social security, to pay a living wage and provide decent jobs, to focus our health service on tackling inequalities and to ensure housing is affordable must all be used in the next five years with a drive and ambition the likes of which we have never seen before.”