In a new report today from the Social Metrics Commission, ‘A new measure of poverty for the UK’, we can see that poverty is still a major problem for Scotland’s politicians but that, due to progressive Scottish Government policies, such as that compensating for the bedroom tax or for protecting the disabled, along with increased social housing provision, the overall situation in Scotland is significantly (in a statistical sense) better here. This is illustrated in Figure 37 from the report, below:
According to the report:
‘Figure 37 shows poverty rates overall for each country and also split by working-age adults, children and pensioners. The main differences are in the poverty rates for Wales and Scotland, where, compared to the UK average, poverty rates are generally higher for people living in Wales and lower for those living in Scotland. The only exception for Scotland is in pensioner poverty, which is higher in Scotland than the UK average.’
The last statement is misleading. See below.
The trend also suggests an improving situation with poverty falling faster in Scotland than in the non-Scottish parts. See figure 38:
According to the report:
‘Figure 38 shows how poverty rates in each of the four nations have varied over time. Overall poverty rates in England, Northern Ireland and Wales have broadly followed the overall trends in the UK poverty rate; falling slowly in the early 2000s, rising during the financial crisis and recession and then falling post-recession. In contrast, until 2017, the overall poverty rate in Scotland had been on a steady downward trend since 2003. However, in the most recent year of data, the poverty rate in Scotland was seen to rise.’
Once more, the last statement, though strictly accurate, does not capture the limited statistical value of a one-year change nor that it still remains well below rUK levels. This upturn may, of course, be an early sign of the effects of the roll-out of the reserved Tory Universal Credit plan.
Table 9 shows how the poverty rates for people living in different types of families vary across the countries in the UK.
In reading this table, it’s worth noting that the English figure may be misleading as it includes those for the affluent South-east, along with and hiding, those for many other parts of England. Also, you can see there that the difference for pensioner couples is too small to be of any statistical value. Most notable, is the markedly, significantly better figure for couples with children which is 5.8% lower than the 24.9% figure for the UK as a whole. This means thousands of families taken out of the worst of poverty. Given the limitations of devolved powers, this can only be seen as a very impressive result for the Scottish Government and, of course, for the other Scottish agencies involved.
Finally, remembering the greater output of social housing in Scotland, per capita, you can see the significantly lower rent levels for this type of housing in Scotland which will have been a factor in the above overall picture. See this for more detail:
SNP Government builds affordable/social housing at almost twice the rate of Tories in England
Pensioner poverty in Scotland is probably linked to the higher cost of heating, compared to the rest of the UK. All pensioners get the same amount of income but Scottish pensioners have to spend more of that income on heating.
Have they taken account of the free prescriptions, free health care, free elderly care etc that is available in Scotland. Surely this makes a difference to the overall level of poverty for pensioners.