Income and Poverty

Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion in Scotland 2013

Commissioned by: Joseph Rowntree Foundation

  • Published 21st Jan 2013
  • Authors: Peter Kenway, , Tom MacInnes, , Hannah Aldridge,
  • Category: Income and Poverty

This report looks back over the last decade at trends in low income, unemployment and health inequalities in Scotland. It finds real improvements in pensioner and child poverty but a worrying growth in youth unemployment. The gap in life expectancy between poor areas and rich areas is stark, and on some measures health inequalities are growing. The report also looks ahead to the referendum on independence, and the impact of welfare reforms in Scotland.

The key points are

  • In the decade to 2010/11, the child poverty rate in Scotland fell from 31% to 21% after housing costs (AHC). From having a higher rate than England and Wales, Scotland now has a much lower rate.
  • Over the same period, the number of working-age adults with dependent children living in poverty fell, while the number without dependent children rose.
  • Since 2008, the number of under-25s who are unemployed has almost doubled to 90,000. They are the only age group for whom unemployment has grown in the last two years.
  • The number of people working part-time who want a full-time job has risen from 70,000 in 2008 to 120,000 in 2012. This has led to a rise in the number of people working part-time, while the number working full-time has fallen.
  • Over the last decade, the proportion of people claiming an out-of-work benefit has fallen across Scotland from 17% to 15%. The largest falls were in Glasgow and its surrounding areas, where the rate was and remains highest, now standing at 22%.
  • Health inequalities in Scotland are not only stark but growing. A boy born in the poorest tenth of areas can expect to live 14 years less than one born in the least deprived tenth. For girls, the difference is eight years.
  • Rates of mortality for heart disease (100 per 100,000 people aged under 75) are twice as high in deprived areas as the Scottish average.
  • Cancer mortality rates in the poorest areas (200 per 100,000) are 50% higher than average, and have not fallen in the last decade, while the average has fallen by one-sixth.

From now until the referendum in late 2014, the issue of independence will dominate the Scottish political landscape. Poverty is currently far from central to the independence debate as it stands but it is vital that it becomes so. This discussion is, after all, about the kind of country Scotland wants to be and should cover areas that are central to tackling poverty – health, schools, childcare, benefits, taxes, work and pay, services, housing and more. The Scottish Government already has powers over many of these areas.

It is important that the discussion of independence does not obscure the need for policy development in all these areas to tackle problems that will exist whatever decision the Scottish people take in 2014.

About this report
This findings was commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and written by Hannah Aldridge, Peter Kenway and Tom MacInnes.