‘Four million more people are living below an adequate standard of living and are just about managing at best, according to an authoritative report on living standards in modern Britain.’ (JRF, 2017)
The much-respected Joseph Rowntree Foundation, released ‘Just about managing: Four million more people living on inadequate incomes in modern Britain’ on 15th Feb 2017.
It warns that: ‘millions of just managing families are on the tipping point of falling into poverty as prices rise in the shops, with forecasts showing the cost of living could be 10 per cent higher by 2020.’
There’s no breakdown of the statistics into those for English regions, N Ireland, Scotland and Wales so the MSM coverage could easily confuse Scottish readers and viewers. I strongly suspect that in the light of a number of SNP policies, the figures, though still disturbing I know, will be less bad for Scotland than for most other parts of the UK. I’ve requested a breakdown but until then, I thought it might be worth reminding ourselves of the last JRF report which did have such a breakdown, Monitoring poverty and social exclusion 2016 published quite recently in December 2016 and one or two other relevant comparative sources.
So from the above December 2016 report, here are some extracts of interest:
‘In the three-year average to 2014/15, the South East had the highest weekly median income of £450. The North East had the lowest weekly median income of £357. Of the countries besides England, Scotland had the highest weekly median income of £413, followed by Northern Ireland’s £372 and Wales’ £370.’ (32)
So, taking into account free prescriptions, bus passes, compensation for bedroom tax and free HE, that might be the first indicator of what to expect about poverty rates:
‘London has the highest poverty rate of 27%, 6% above the UK average. The West Midlands and Wales have the next highest rate, at 23% each. Scotland and southern England outside London have the lowest poverty rates: 19% in the South West and 18% in Scotland, the East and the South East.’ (34)
I know 18% is still too high but it is worth reporting that Scotland is less afflicted by it than nearly every other part of the UK.
With particular regard to child poverty, I’ve had to dig around. This is from a 2013 JRF report, well into the period of SNP governance:
‘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. The rate for England and Wales is 28%.’ (JRF 2013)
By 2014, according to Poverty and Social Inclusion it had fallen a further 1% to 20%. Still a disgrace, I know.
I realise this is not wonderful news by any means but it does suggest the SNP government’s policies are helping to alleviate austerity.
Robert the Bruce did not have leprosy, Western University (Ontario) research shows
This hugely significant finding was published on February 16th 2017. I didn’t know that there was any suggestion he did have leprosy. Wouldn’t his arm have fallen off when he hit Henry de Bohun with his axe? His dad had smallpox, I think. According to the Canadian researchers:
‘Robert the Bruce, long believed to have suffered from leprosy, did not have the disease that in the 1300s carried a heavy stigma, the work concluded. The suggestion their national hero may have had the disfiguring, contagious disease has long been a burr in Scotland’s thistle. But in the first examination authorized by the Bruce family descendants, has determined King Robert I did not show the tell-tale suite of signs of the disease.’
It was a burr in Scotland’s thistle? A burr is a rough edge. Aren’t thistles all burrs and meant to be so? Needless to say the Daily Torygraph reported that he really did have leprosy. Was that the reason why Edward 1st wanted to make Scotland into a ‘colony?’