The Joseph Rowntree Foundation's UK Poverty Report 2017 shows that overall poverty rates are now lower in Scotland than in the UK as a whole. The difference is greatest for people living in the socially rented sector (37% in Scotland compared with 44% in the UK as a whole).
That the social housing stock is proportionally greater in Scotland than the rest of the UK is one reason for our lower poverty rates and why building more affordable homes remains a key SNP priority. Overall, housing costs remain relatively low in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK.
Poverty is highest amongst families with children. Pensioners have the lowest poverty rate, followed by working age people without children.
Recent projections by the Institute for Fiscal Studies show that child poverty in Scotland is expected to rise from 23% to 29% by 2021, due primarily to UK Tory Government policy, which the SNP Government is working to mitigate within the modest powers of the Scottish Parliament.
Kenneth Gibson MSP commented:
"It is a worrying trend that child poverty is on the rise across the UK. Nevertheless, the SNP Government is working hard against this tide particularly in tackling child poverty.
"Following the passing of the Child Poverty Bill in the Scottish Parliament last month, the SNP Government will set-out its three-year plan to tackle child poverty by April 2018.
"The SNP Government has also set up a Poverty and Inequality Commission to provide advice to Ministers and monitor progress on tackling poverty and inequality. The Commission will advise on the distribution of a new fund, which will provide £50 million over five years to support innovative approaches at both the national and local level to tackle child poverty.
"This is in addition to doubling funding to increase free childcare for 4, 3, and vulnerable 2-year olds to 30 hours per week by 2020, enabling parents to take on more hours of work and a range of other measures, including work on the attainment gap and mitigating Tory austerity policies such as the Bedroom Tax.
"Meanwhile, the UK Tory Government has just announced another £239 million of cuts to Scotland's budget, so there is no doubt we still have difficult times ahead. The SNP Government's countermeasures are designed to soften the blow for children and young families across Scotland as much as we can.”