Shelter Scotland calls to more immediate action to prevent child poverty

Graeme Brown
Graeme Brown

Housing in homelessness charity Shelter Scotland has bemoaned new statistics which revealed that one million people in Scotland, more than a fifth of them children, are living in relative poverty after housing costs.

Official figures have indicated that poverty and inequality have been slowly rising in Scotland in recent years as the incomes of poorer households fell further behind those of middle income households, pushing more people into poverty.

Over the three-year period 2014-17, one million people in Scotland (each year) were in relative poverty after they had paid their housing costs, the statistics revealed.

In 2014-17, 16% of people in Scotland were living in relative poverty, before housing costs, approximately 860,000 people each year. This compares to 15% in 2013-16 and suggests a slowly rising trend since the all-time low in 2011-14.

After housing costs, 19% of people in Scotland were living in relative poverty in 2014-17, representing one million people each year. This is the same poverty rate as in 2013-16, but remained higher than previous years.

Between 2012 and 2016, 8% of people in Scotland were in “persistent poverty” before housing costs, or living in poverty for three or more of the four years. This rate was the same before and after housing costs.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “It is simply wrong that in Scotland today, child poverty is on the rise again. We know this can have a hugely negative impact on children’s health, wellbeing and future life chances.

“After housing costs, nearly a quarter of all children in Scotland are now living in poverty. This is directly linked to spiralling housing costs and our chronic shortage of affordable homes. Our housing crisis is robbing more and more children of a decent standard of life.

“A major step change in the number of affordable homes available in communities across Scotland will help to tackle this. There is no room for complacency on our national commitment to build more affordable homes.”

The Scottish Government said it was “absolutely committed” to ending poverty and would set out its plan to eradicate child poverty by 2030.

Equalities minister Angela Constance said: “These figures show the scale of the challenge we face, which is why we are committed to actions that make life better now as well as driving long-term change.”

Graeme Brown added: “We would urge the Scottish Government to bring forward its date for cutting child poverty currently set for 2030. That’s a long time to wait for a lot of children who need to see action now.”

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