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Scottish poverty study calls on governments to tackle rising deprivation

5 September 2014

The percentage of households falling below society’s minimum standard of living has increased from 14% to 33% over the last 30 years, despite the size of the economy doubling.

The percentage of households falling below society’s minimum standard of living has increased from 14% to 33% over the last 30 years, despite the size of the economy doubling. This is one of the stark findings from the largest study of poverty and deprivation ever conducted in the UK.

In Scotland today, when we compare people’s actual living standards with the minimum standards which the public thinks everyone should have, we find that:

  • almost one million people cannot afford adequate housing conditions
  • 800,000 people are too poor to engage in common social activities
  • over a quarter of a million children and adults aren’t properly fed.

The survey shows that people in Scotland have the same view of what the minimum standard of living should be as those in the rest of the UK.

The survey also shows that there is slightly less poverty in Scotland than in the rest of the UK; 18% of children and adults in Scotland were poor at the end of 2012 compared with 22% in the rest of the UK. People were regarded as poor if they had both a low income and were also ‘multiply deprived’ - suffering from three or more deprivations such as lack of food, heating and clothing due to a lack of money.

The Poverty and Social Exclusion in the United Kingdom (PSE) project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), has shown that even full-time work is not always sufficient to escape from poverty.

During a recent conference held in Edinburgh on Poverty and Social Exclusion in Scotland and the UK, experts looked at trends over the past 30 years and discussed how best to tackle the problems.

Professor David Gordon, from the Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research at the University of Bristol, said: “The UK’s Coalition Government aimed to eradicate poverty by tackling the causes of poverty. Their strategy has clearly failed. The available high quality scientific evidence shows that poverty and deprivation have increased since 2010, the poor are suffering from deeper poverty and the gap between the rich and poor is widening.”

You can read further about this on the School for Policy Studies website.

 

The PSE study is based on two surveys conducted in 2012. The ‘Necessities of Life’ survey looks at views on minimum standards. This was carried out between May and June 2012 and is based on a sample of 1,447 adults aged 16 or over in the Britain and 1,015 in Northern Ireland. The second survey looks at actual living standards and this interviewed 5,193 households in 2012 (4,205 in Britain and 988 in Northern Ireland) comprising 12,097 people (2,775 in Scotland). The full living standards questionnaire can be downloaded from the PSE website.

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