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Friday, 17 March 2017

New Figures: Majority of Scottish Children in Poverty Live in Working Households

TFN – One million Scots are now living in poverty, new statistics show.

And campaigners warn more people in paid work are being classified as poor.

The figures, released by the Scottish Government, include 260,000 children, 70% of whom are in households where at least one person is in paid work.

Anti-poverty campaigners have responded to the findings by calling for concerted action by both the UK and Scottish governments to address the growing crisis.

They call on the Scottish Government to use all its new powers to ensure the figures do not turn into long term trends.

This will include using the power to top up benefits that are currently reserved to Westminster.

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, called on the Scottish Government to top up reserved benefits to alleviate the problem.

And, he said, increasing child benefit by £5 per week would help to lift 30,000 children out of poverty and should now be a priority.

“With a child poverty bill now progressing through parliament, there is a real opportunity to improve the lives of families living on a low income and ensure that this is the last generation to grow up in poverty," Kelly said.  

“At UK level, the prime minister and chancellor have shown this week that they are willing to make u-turns when they think it is necessary.

"These figures provide ample evidence of a need to reverse the cuts that have been made to child benefit, jobseekers allowances, tax credits, which are due to be frozen until the end of this parliament. Freezing these lifeline benefits has had a devastating impact on millions of people."

Alison Watson, deputy director of Shelter Scotland, said the lack of affordable housing was having a huge impact on families and individuals living in Scotland, pushing more into poverty and damaging their wellbeing and life chances – especially children.

“That 170,000 more people have been pushed into poverty because of their housing costs should be yet another alarm bell for the Scottish Government that much more needs to be done right now to tackle Scotland’s housing crisis," she warned. 

“It’s simply wrong that one in four children should find themselves in poverty and that more than one in 10 children have been living with persistent poverty for three or more of the last four years.

“We want to see a step change in the provision of good quality and truly affordable homes being delivered in communities where they are needed across Scotland.

"We also need to protect investment in the housing safety net that helps some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society through very hard times and keeps a roof over their head.”

She added: “Poverty and homelessness are closely linked – it doesn’t take too much to tip a family over the edge into a spiral of debt, arrears and homelessness. 

"A new national strategy on homelessness is needed to tackle the issues fuelling today’s homelessness.”

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