On Thursday 16th March, the Scottish Government released two sets of poverty statistics, on how many people live in poverty and on how many people live in ‘persistent poverty’, in other words, have been in poverty for three of the last four years.
The figures are stark.
17% of Scotland’s population live in poverty before housing costs, equivalent to 880,000 people. When you include housing costs, a further 170,000 people are in poverty – pushing the total figure to over a million people living in poverty and 1 in 5 of the population.
Poverty rates have fluctuated over the past few years, but seem to now be on the rise. More worryingly, poverty among working people is increasing fastest of all, perhaps reflecting the growth in part-time working, zero hours contracts, and low wages that fail to rise in line with inflation and living costs.
More than 1 in 4 children in Scotland live in poverty. And for the first time, we now know that over 1 in 10 children are classed as living in persistent poverty, meaning that they have been growing up in poverty for at least 3 in the last 4 years. The potential impact on the education attainment and wellbeing of each of these children is damning.