Scotland went into the Covid-19 pandemic with “unacceptably high levels of poverty”, warns a new Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) report, and the economic fallout of the pandemic means that child poverty targets are set to be missed.
Currently around a million people in Scotland are living in poverty with children making up 24 per cent of the total, at 230,000. That figure has been rising over the last five years despite interim targets to reduce the number of kids in poverty by a quarter, meaning they would account for 18 per cent of people in poverty by March 2024.
JRF’s annual state of the nation report, Poverty in Scotland 2020, has called on ministers to take “bold action” on job training, affordable housing and an income lifeline for families at next year’s Holyrood election. The urgent warning comes as Challenge Poverty Week is marked in Scotland, putting the spotlight on vulnerable people.
Today marks the start of #ChallengePoverty Week and the launch of our state-of-the-nation report – a crucial moment for bold, compassionate action that gets Scotland back on course to solve #ChildPoverty: https://t.co/WEsKykmPPM
— Joseph Rowntree Fdn. (@jrf_uk) October 5, 2020
Those on low incomes have faced the biggest challenges due to Covid-19. The pandemic has had a serious impact on jobs and financial security with the mean number of hours worked in Scotland falling from 32 hours at the start of 2019 to just 25 by June 2020. Lower-paid workers in accommodation and food, retail and wholesale, manufacturing, and entertainment sectors have been hit particularly hard by the drop.
For many, this has meant turning to Universal Credit. The JRF report shows that the number of claimants has doubled since January to 470,000 people, with single adults with no children, in particular, seeing a three-fold increase in claims. Westminster’s temporary increase in standard allowances of Universal Credit and working tax credit have stopped family income falling even further.