Tackling the drivers of in-work poverty in Scotland

New research reveals actions that governments across the UK can take to support low-paid workers and employers in the hospitality sector in Scotland.

Serving the Future, a collaboration between the Poverty Alliance, the Fraser of Allander Institute, and the Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures, has been working with hospitality employers and workers to identify actions to address in-work poverty in the sector.

Low-paid workers reported ongoing financial struggles as a consequence of the cost-of-living crisis. A lack of knowledge of social security entitlement, missing out on receiving benefits due to earning just above thresholds and high costs of housing are critical issues. Families in the research also shared that they are struggling to sustain employment as a consequence of a lack of flexible, affordable childcare.

For hospitality employers, the current period is one of the most challenging businesses have faced in decades, both post-Brexit and as a consequence of rising costs.

At this mid-point in the project, a new policy briefing from the Serving the Future partnership has started to identify changes that could be made to address issues around in-work poverty in Scotland.

Dr Laura Robertson, Senior Research Officer at the Poverty Alliance, said:

“Families and single adults are struggling in low-paid work in Scotland during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. The hospitality sector is one of the lowest paid industries in Scotland and workers face particular challenges around insecure hours, seasonal work, and lack of opportunities for progression.

This research not only shines a light on critical issues that are impacting people in low-paid work, but the challenges facing employers trying to support workers. In-work poverty cannot be addressed by employers alone. Alongside good working conditions identified by workers in Serving the Future, policy responses must address key drivers of in-work poverty.

This includes improving availability of childcare, transport and housing for workers in the sector. Now, more than ever, the sector needs the government to step up and put words into action.”

Dr Jim McCormick, Chief Executive of The Robertson Trust, funding the project, said:

“It is now more common in Scotland to be in working poverty than it is to be in poverty and out of work. Through its focus on the hospitality industry, Serving the Future has highlighted the urgent need to drive improvements in pay, hours, security, progression, flexibility, and job quality.

Often, however, an employer’s ability to make genuine progress is impacted by external pressures and that’s why we’re calling on the Scottish Government to work more closely with the sector. By co-designing solutions that take account of challenges faced by both employees and employers, there is a real opportunity to ensure employment becomes a genuine route out of poverty for many more than now.”


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