Scottish families in 'crisis mode' over cost-of-living, report finds
A major report into family finances reveals "a bleak picture of a nation in crisis mode", it is claimed.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation in Scotland (JRF) today publishes its latest Poverty in Scotland report, which includes a survey by Savanta ComRes of almost 4,200 households. One third of those surveyed said they have no savings or have saved less than £250. Going without essentials is now "endemic", the charity said, with one in four now cutting back on three or more basics.
More than one in five rated their household finances as "very insecure" and many said the cost-of-living crisis in harming their mental health, including four in five families with a baby.
JRF commissioned the survey "due to a lack of official statistics" which the Department for Work and Pensions could not accurately collect as a result of the pandemic.
One woman in Fife told how she broke down in tears when her five-year-old child asked why they "couldn't get more food". Laura Millar, of Fife Gingerbread, said her organisation was experiencing an increased need for crisis support for food and fuel, while Peter Kelly of the Poverty Alliance said the report represented "a failure of compassion and justice on the part of our politicians".
The research is launched to mark the start of Challenge Poverty Week and report authors have raised concerns about the potential impacts as the winter draws in.
JRF says both the UK and Scottish governments must "treat the cost-of-living crisis as seriously as the Covid pandemic" by making more financial support available and advertising what help there is "more vigorously".
Low-income families on means-tested benefits are said to face a £450 cash gap even after the UK Government's energy price guarantee. More support is available to eligible families in Scotland, but Chris Birt of JRF said: "While the UK Government's immoral abandonment of those who need the support most is indefensible, people are now looking to the Scottish Government for support and they deserve no less.
"As part of that, the Scottish Government must not copy the UK Government’s approach to cuts to income tax and Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and use the additional revenues to ease the cost of living pressures on low-income families. Like in Covid-19, we as a society can, and should, contribute to ensuring that those who have the least have the support that they need."