Poverty in Scotland 2018: The positive news that you won’t have heard from BBC Scotland


Note: The predicted dramatic increases above neglect impact of further welfare devolution to SNP Government


Reporting Scotland ignored the report altogether. They were far too busy with trouble over the football cup semi-final location and the Tory conference in Birmingham. However, at 06:29 and repeated five more times, in the Scottish insert into BBC Breakfast, we heard:

‘Child poverty in Scotland can only be eradicated if there is a drift in attitudes toward flexible work and school and holiday provision according to a leading charity. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimates 1 in 4 Scots children, almost one quarter of a million, is living in poverty and the majority of those are living in families where someone is disabled, or parents are struggling to juggle work and child care. The Scottish Government [not SNP this time?] say they’re taking action, but UK welfare cuts mean they’re doing so with one hand ties behind their back.’

The above is all true but, along with Reporting Scotland’s total neglect, this means that there remains much not reported and much of it is positive news for Scotland. Being, of course, biased in that direction, to compensate for BBC Scotland’s own bias, here are the ‘good’ bits:

Child poverty under the Tories remains a ‘national’ disgrace

In their Conclusions, the JRF team write:

Many families are in poverty despite meeting the conditions for the receipt of Universal Credit, working as many or more hours as expected. JRF wants to see Universal Credit changed before large numbers of households are moved onto it from tax credits and benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance. The priority across the UK should be to raise the work allowance (the amount people can earn before their Universal Credit payment is affected) to enable families to keep more of what they earn. Alongside this, we want to see the take-up of Scottish payment flexibilities boosted and the choice of payment splitting made available.’ 18

Turning to the Scottish context, the authors offer many encouraging comments, entirely missed by BBC Scotland News.

 Dignity and Respect

The authors note the value of the SNP Government’s introduction of payment flexibilities and finish with:

‘The Scottish Government’s commitment to building a social security system that has dignity and respect at its core and offering routes into employment for those currently excluded from the labour market, could change the family incomes and prospects of thousands of children for the better.’

Differences with non-Scottish Parts 1: Less vulnerable to benefits cuts

‘The IFS found that low-income families in Scotland currently have a higher proportion of their income coming from earnings than low-income families in some (but not all) parts of the UK, so have a lower proportion of income that is vulnerable to benefit cuts compared with some of the hardest-hit regions of the UK.’ (Hood and Waters,2017). 2

Differences with non-Scottish Parts 2: Fewer large families

‘In addition, one key change to UK benefit policy – the two-child limit on tax credits and Universal Credit– will particularly hit families with three or more children born after 6 April 2017. The IFS analysis found that Scotland has proportionally fewer families with three or more children than elsewhere in the UK, and around half the proportions found in Northern Ireland and the West Midlands.’ (Hood and Waters, 2017). 3

Differences with non-Scottish Parts 3 and 4: Higher increases in median income and less relative poverty


Note: The predicted dramatic increases above neglect impact of further welfare devolution to SNP Government

‘Many of the key drivers of changes in poverty have been felt UK-wide. However, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has supported some research that showed a clear rise in Scottish median incomes relative to the rest of the UK from around 2003/04 and a relatively bigger improvement in the relative poverty rate from 2004/05.’ (Bailey, 2014).

Persistent poverty refers to children who have been living in relative poverty in three out of the last four years – a measure of the number of children who have been in poverty for a prolonged period of time.

Differences with non-Scottish Parts 5 and 6: Stronger decreases in poverty rates and increases in employment

‘The research identified strong decreases in poverty rates for the working-age population compared with the rest of the UK, alongside improving employment rates, especially for families without children. Over the period from 2000/04 to 2008/12, Scotland saw a bigger reduction in out-of-work families compared with the rest of the UK and similar growth as the rest of the UK in ‘intermediate work intensity’ (‘partly working’ families). 8

Differences with non-Scottish Parts 7 and 8: Affordable rents and mortgage costs

‘The analysis also pointed to more affordable rent and mortgage costs relative to income than in England, with social rents being 20–25% lower in Scotland by 2012/13. As a result, poverty after housing costs, compared with before housing costs, rose by a smaller amount than in England.’ 8

SNP Government Initiatives

‘In the coming months, the Scottish Government will launch two strategies that could make a crucial difference for our society. The first is an action plan on halving the disability employment gap, and the second is an action plan on the gender pay gap that is due to be published by the end of the year. This could be transformational for tackling poverty.’ 9


Still much to be done but at least our government seems to care about it.



3 thoughts on “Poverty in Scotland 2018: The positive news that you won’t have heard from BBC Scotland

  1. Contrary October 3, 2018 / 7:55 pm

    Indeedy, not as grim as its made out to be – still rubbish having any poverty in this day and age. That last on the SNP government initiative is excellent news & sounds like it could have real positive impacts.

    You know, yesterday and today on GMS radio propaganda Scotland, I noticed the bits that I did hear (sleeping so badly these days I keep missing a lot of it) that they ONLY used ‘Scottish Government’ – though it was a bit fudgy the way they were reporting, so can’t say if they were all ‘good’ or some were ‘bad’. Just thought it was interesting, and wondered if,,, maybe they took note of that indyref2.scot complaint? I’m sure it’ll be temporary if that was the case. I probably just missed the relevant bits. But it is something I idly take note of throughout their broadcasts normally (and it IS normally very noticeable) so the difference seemed quite stark.

    On the subject of the BBC and how they enjoy telling us how fat we all are, a colleague at work said the other day ‘well there IS and obesity epidemic’ – I just said that was rubbish, but wish I’d quoted some of the numbers at him or even accused him of listening to the BBC now – then had a bit of a rant about fat children – I hardly see any chubby children these days, so wonder what area he’s living in that they’re so spidemically chubby. Honestly, there are so many people that suck in what they are told instead of just actually looking around themselves. (Same person that whined about having to wait for physio appointments on NHS for repeated self-injury at the gym,,, *roll of eyes*).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Contrary October 4, 2018 / 7:36 am

    Haha! Didn’t notice that – it is hard battling against autocorrect when you are making up words ,,, ‘epidemically’.

    I think I was too. Nothing wrong with a bit of chubbiness, and a fair number of people and children are, regardless of the amount they eat. I’ve given up sugar again after the hiatus of the Cold (numerous throat sweeties) and being sent to foreign parts (Newcastle) where I exercised extreme sugar intake.

    Oh, did I mention the discovered good mixer for tequila? I can’t remember if I’ve already said: cucumber & watermelon tonic was top notch. Highly recommended.


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