The Covid-19 pandemic has “intensified” the poverty experienced by low income families across Scotland, a report published today has found, with calls for increased action in order for Scotland to meet its 2030 child poverty targets.
The report, published by the Poverty Alliance as part of its Get Heard Scotland project, is based on interviews with 32 low-income families from Renfrewshire and Inverclyde, which explored their experiences during the pandemic. It found that Covid-19 had intensified their challenges, with lone parents, Black and minority ethnic families, and families with a disabled parent or child the most impacted. Particular issues that the report highlights include:
- The mental health impact of living on a low income through the pandemic, with the loss of support networks and the loss of childcare and schooling having a significant impact
- The precariousness of incomes through the pandemic, with an increased reliance on crisis support
- The prevalence of insecure employment, with structural discrimination against Black and minority ethnic communities and disabled people being highlighted
- The importance of access to good community spaces and infrastructure, including green spaces
Digital exclusion was also a key issue, with participants needing digital access for leisure, shopping and reducing isolation. But despite the research exploring the negative impacts of the lack of digital access, it also highlights the importance of robust non digital alternatives. It calls on service providers to continue investing in face-to-face support for their clients to ensure everyone can access the help they need.
Recommendations made by the report in order to better support people living on low incomes include:
- Increasing investment in mental health services, including addressing stigma through targeted local activity
- Undertaking more action to increase the number of workers receiving the real Living Wage, as well as ensuring employability services work for everyone regardless of age, gender, race or other characteristics
- Ensuring that income adequacy is central to the development of Scottish social security, and doing more to promote people’s awareness of their social security entitlements
- Increasing support for community groups and local anchor organisations
Peter Kelly, Director, Poverty Alliance says:
“Through our Get Heard Scotland programme we heard about some amazing efforts made by community organisations and local public services to make sure people were supported during the pandemic. Groups and local authorities worked together to get help to those who needed it. But the reality that we found is that despite these efforts many people felt their experience of poverty deepen during the pandemic.
The Scottish Government have set themselves ambitious targets on tackling child poverty. This report demonstrates, through the experiences of people living on low incomes, how much work is still required if they are to meet them. Communities across Scotland are held back by the grip of poverty , with the report highlighting the particular challenges communities in Renfrewshire and Inverclyde face.
It is vital that policy-makers at every level – particularly local authorities and the Scottish Government – listen to and act on the voices of people experiencing poverty. To help do that, they must also place those voices at the heart of their decision-making processes.”
Laura Robertson, Research Officer, Poverty Alliance:
“Covid-19 has not only tightened the grip of poverty on the lives of many children and young people, but has also exacerbated these inequalities. We hope that this report can be a call to action, with its recommendations acting as a blueprint on how we can redesign our society to tackle hardship and create a more just Scotland.”