Annual poverty stats show one in five in poverty before Corona hit

Scottish Government’s annual poverty stats: Poverty Alliance comment

Responding to the release today of the Scottish Government’s Poverty and Income Inequality in Scotland: 2016 – 2019, Director of Poverty Alliance, Peter Kelly said:

“Today’s figures paint a shocking picture of poverty in Scotland, with one in five people living in poverty even before Covid-19 hit. The figures also show that one in four children lives in poverty and two thirds of these children live in a household where at least one parent is in work. In the coming months, thousands more risk being plunged into poverty as unemployment rises. In just nine days, the DWP has already reported almost 500,000 new applications for Universal Credit. This is a huge concern when its inbuilt five week delay pulls so many into debt and deeper poverty.

“In our response to the crisis we have seen that our sense of compassion is alive and well as people rush to volunteer, donate, and protect neighbours and loved ones. But the crisis has also exposed the failings in our system of social protection and in our labour market. People have been shocked to learn the paltry sums available as social security payments and statutory sick pay, and the lack of protections available to workers on zero-hour contracts.

“In time this crisis will pass and we will return to normality. But that normality cannot include one in four children growing up in poverty. The UK Government has shown in the last week that it can take action that is just and compassionate. It must now go further in righting the wrong of poverty, by end​ing the five week for Universal Credit, increas​ing the value of social security payments including Child Benefit, end​ing the benefit cap and extend​ing employment retention to the self-employed. The Scottish Government must also play its part by ​using its social security powers to their fullest extent, including by increasing the ambition and reach of the Scottish Child Payment in response to the unfolding crisis.”

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