One of the country’s leading social change groups has warned poverty in Scotland is rising from an already “unacceptably high level”.
In its latest report on poverty in Scotland, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said almost one in five people in Scotland live in poverty, with the rate of child poverty sitting at one in four.
The organisation, which was established to combat the impact of inequality and the root causes of poverty more than 115 years ago, notes action taken by the Sottish Government has shown “how seriously” Holyrood is taking the issue, but more ambitious developments in housing, social security and work.
People living in poverty in Scotland is at a lower level since 1999-2002, but since 2009 it has started to increase according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
The Foundation adds programmes like the Scottish Child Payment, although positive in its approach, will not help reduce poverty and child poverty on its own.
They further note interim targets set by the Scottish Government to reduce child poverty to 8% by 2023/24 are unlikely to be hit.
The Scottish Government has set itself a statutory target of reducing child poverty to 10% by 2030.
In her report, economist Emma Congreve said: “The announcement of the Scottish Child Payment has been widely recognised as having the potential to make a sizeable difference to children’s lives.
“But even an investment on this scale, which is expected to reduce child poverty by three percentage points, will not bring Scotland close to its interim child poverty target based on current projections, nor should we expect social security to do all the heavy lifting.
“Scotland’s existing and recently devolved powers on social security do have the potential to boost incomes for people on a low income but clearly more ambition and actions are needed for Scotland to achieve its goals across all areas of government and with key partners. This will require focused commitment from employers, housing providers and public services – both national and local. Actions will need to be bold to make the difference required.
“Encouragingly, the ambition the Scottish Government has shown in developing the Scottish Child Payment demonstrates that there is appetite to make change happen.
“If the same appetite is shown in other areas of devolved policy, then the child poverty targets will be within reach and Scotland will have demonstrated that it can choose to solve poverty through relevant solutions applied across all age groups.
The SNP’s social justice spokesperson Neil Gray MP said: “I very much welcome this report and the fact that action taken by the SNP Scottish Government – including making building affordable housing and tackling poverty key priorities – is making a real difference to families across Scotland, particularly in the face of mitigating harmful Tory cuts.
“The Scottish Government has made the right decision to take a very different route to the Tories at Westminster. Whether it comes to a social security system based on dignity, fairness and respect, promoting the living wage and delivering new homes, they are taking actions to tackle poverty and inequality.
“However, we could go further – it’s time for Scotland to have the full powers of independence to prevent thousands more being plunged into poverty and protect people from the Tories disastrous policies on Brexit and welfare cuts.”