Cheaper housing main reason for lower poverty rates in Scotland

New report looks at how poverty has changed over 20 years of devolution.

A new report published today by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) finds that lower housing costs, particularly in the social rented sector, are the main reason for lower levels of poverty in Scotland when compared to the rest of the UK.

The assessment comes in an annual state of the nation report entitled ‘Poverty in Scotland 2019’ which looks at how poverty has changed over 20 years of devolution.


It highlights that although poverty rates before housing costs are similar across the UK, poverty is significantly lower in Scotland after housing costs are deducted – with the biggest difference for children. 

The report states that “the announcement of the Scottish Child Payment earlier this summer shows how seriously the Scottish Government is taking its legal obligations on reducing child poverty.”

Whilst the Scottish Government has set ambitious targets to eradicate child poverty, UK government welfare reforms are set to increase child poverty to 29% in 2023/24, according to the Resolution Foundation.

The SNP has said this report shows that action taken by the Scottish Government – such as building 87,000 affordable homes since 2007 and introducing vital child poverty legislation – is making a real impact on tackling poverty despite UK wide Tory austerity cuts to the welfare system.

The SNP Scottish Government say it is currently looking at a long-term vision for affordable housing until 2040 and will introduce the ‘game-changing’ Scottish Child Payment to children under 6 next year.

Commenting on the JRF report, the SNP’s Social Justice spokesperson and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Poverty Neil Gray MP said:

“I very much welcome this report and the fact that action taken by the SNP Scottish Government – including making building affordable housing and tackling poverty key priorities – is making a real difference to families across Scotland, particularly in the face of mitigating harmful Tory cuts.

“The SNP Scottish Government has made the right decision to take a very different route to the Tories at Westminster.

“Whether it comes to a social security system based on dignity, fairness and respect, promoting the living wage and delivering new homes, they are taking actions to tackle poverty and inequality. 

“However, we could go further – it’s time for Scotland to have the full powers of independence to prevent thousands more being plunged into poverty and protect people from the Tories disastrous policies on Brexit and welfare cuts.”

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