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by Kirsteen Paterson
02 October 2023
'Difficult to see' how Scottish child poverty targets can be met as more Scots face 'extreme hardship', JRF report claims

'Difficult to see' how Scottish child poverty targets can be met as more Scots face 'extreme hardship', JRF report claims

More Scots are facing "extreme hardship" and it is "difficult to see how" Scottish Government poverty targets can be met under current plans, a new report claims.

Around one in five Scots - more than one million people - live in poverty. Around 250,000 are children and almost half of the total experiencing deprivation are in "very deep" poverty, according to Scottish Government figures.

In a report released today, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) report released today has said the UK Government's "work first" approach to welfare has failed and though the flagship Scottish Child Payment - worth £25 per week, per child to eligible low-income families - will likely see child poverty decrease but this "isn't enough" to ensure the targets for 2023-31 are achieved.

The Scottish Government wants to hit a number of goals over the period, ultimately cutting the proportion of children in relative poverty to 10 per cent by 2030-31.

But poor pay and inadequate welfare puts these goals at risk, JRF said.

Work has failed to provide a route out of poverty for many, it is claimed, with women worst affected.

One in ten Scots have been "trapped" in low-paid work, earning less than the Real Living Wage of £10.90 per hour for over 18s for a period of at least four in five years. 

More than seven in ten of those on persistent low pay are women and two in three of the Scottish children living in poverty have at least one parent in work.

Meanwhile, housing costs are said to keep 110,000 people from working families on better incomes in poverty.

And in-work poverty rates are more than three times higher for people from an ethnic minority than for white people.

JRF is calling on the UK Government to adopt an Essentials Guarantee to ensure Universal Credit payments cover the basics.

Chris Birt, JRF associate director for Scotland, said political leaders are "sleepwalking into another winter that promises to be crushing for households".

He said: "The Scottish Government will need to react to this in their forthcoming budget, but the UK Government in particular seems to believe that the cost-of-living crisis is over. They are wrong.

"We want to see the UK Government come through for the Scottish people by embracing the Essentials Guarantee which would improve the lives of people across these islands."

He went on: "Some of our biggest industries are trapping people in low pay, unreliable hours and underemployment. These are things governments can and should do, but businesses need to engage with their workforces to ensure that employees are able to secure an income that supports them to get by."

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