Nearly 20 percent of Scots living in poverty, gov't figures show

By Ray Downs  |  March 23, 2018 at 1:58 AM
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March 23 (UPI) -- More than 1 million people in Scotland are living in poverty as austerity measures and income rates have declined, according to government figures.

The totals come out to about 19 percent of the total Scottish population and mark an increase of more than 30,000 people since three years ago.

Poverty levels are defined as a single adult with an income of less than £9,700 ($13,688) a year before housing costs are met and £22,200 ($31,329) a year for a family with two adults and two children.

Equalities Secretary Angela Constance said the Scottish government is "absolutely committed" to reducing the poverty rate, the Scotsman reported.

"These figures show the scale of the challenge we face, which is why we are committed to actions that make life better now as well as driving long term change," Constance said. "This includes initiatives such as our major expansion of free childcare as well as our investment of over £100 million every year to protect people from the worst impact of UK Government welfare cuts."

While overall poverty figures have risen over the past two years, the number of children living in poverty has decreased from 260,000 in 2015 to 230,000 last year.

However, the percentage of children living in poverty slightly increased from 23 percent in 2015 to 24 percent last year.

Child Poverty Action said economic assistance would be necessary to improving those numbers.

"Today's figures show yet another rise in child poverty," the organization tweeted. "Poverty damages children's life chances. Ending the freeze on benefits must be a priority to reduce the restrictions poverty places on families."

About 66 percent of children living in poverty have at least one parent working, but Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, told the Sunday Post that low wages and rising living costs keep poor families below the poverty line.

"It cannot be right that one million people are now living in poverty in Scotland and that ever more people are having their choices restricted, their opportunities limited and their efforts to get by made even more difficult," Kelly said.

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