The JRF reported that “for someone with the same life circumstances such as qualifications, wage, and family type, progress out of poverty is more likely if they live in Scotland or Northern Ireland than the rest of the UK, and least likely if they live in London or the North East.”
The report also attributes lower poverty rates in Scotland – compared to England and Wales – to “lower rents in the social housing sector as well as Scotland having a higher proportion of social rented properties”.
The SNP has said this report shows that action taken by the Scottish Government, such as building 87,000 affordable homes since 2007 – almost 60,000 of which were for social rent – 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 reports also says that there are roughly four million children living in poverty in the UK, up by 400,000 over the past five years.
- Over the last five years, poverty rates have risen for children and pensioners. Poverty rates are highest in London, the North of England, Midlands and Wales, and lowest in the South (excluding London), Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- Although growing employment and earnings have protected many working-age adults from rising poverty, in-work poverty has risen, because often people’s pay, hours, or both, are not enough. More than three in five people in poverty are in a working family, compared with less than half 20 years ago.
- Reductions in interest rates have led to cheaper mortgages, reducing poverty rates for people buying with a mortgage. This contrasts with rising housing costs for renters.
- Once extra-cost disability benefits are discounted, nearly half of all individuals in poverty live in a household where someone is disabled.
- Poverty (measured after housing costs) fell slightly in 2017/18 compared with 2016/17 because of three housing-related factors: social sector rents in England were reduced by 1%; the proportion of homes being bought with a mortgage (which often have lower housing costs than renting) increased slightly, while the proportion being privately rented fell; and actual private rents fell in some areas.
Commenting, SNP Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Neil Gray MP said: “This report shows that while only 15% of social security is devolved, the SNP Scottish Government is using its limited powers to make a real difference to Scottish communities in the face of harmful Tory austerity cuts– including making building affordable housing and tackling poverty key priorities.”
He continued: “In 2018-19, Scottish Government invested more than £1.4 billion in support which was targeted on low-incomes households – including £100 million to mitigate the worst impacts of UK Government welfare cuts and introducing the ‘game changing’ Scottish Child Payment which will see £10 a week per child go to low-income families by the end of 2022 and reach families with a child under 6 by the end of this year.
“Whilst the Scottish Government has set ambitious targets to eradicate child poverty, the Resolution Foundation have warned that under this Tory government child poverty risks reaching a 60 year high of 34%.
“We could do so much more to tackle poverty and inequality if Scotland had the full powers of independence – for starters we would be protected from the Tories’ callous austerity policies and the consequences of their hard-line Brexit.”
JRF executive director Claire Ainsley said: “The new government has an historic opportunity as we enter the 2020s.
“Past successes in recent decades show that it is possible for the UK to loosen the grip of poverty among those most at risk, but this progress has begun to unravel and it will take sustained effort across the country and throughout the governments of the UK to unlock poverty.
“It’s not right that so many are unable to build a firm foundation to their lives because their jobs are insecure or they can’t find a home they can afford.
“Without a better deal for working families, and a social security system that provides a public service for all of us, the UK faces further division and deeper poverty.”
Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Margaret Greenwood MP, said the report should serve as “a wake up call for the UK Government”.
She said: “One in five of the UK population is living in poverty, more children and pensioners are in poverty now than five years ago, working single parents have been swept fastest into poverty and in-work poverty is on the rise.
“Too many people are trapped in low paid insecure work and all too often the social security system fails to give people the support they need.
“The government should make tackling poverty a top priority by providing a living wage of at least £10 an hour for all workers aged 16 and over and create a social security system that treats people with respect and is there for any one of us in our time of need.”