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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-10032: Clare Haughey (Rutherglen)

Scottish National Party

Date lodged: 29 June 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on the impact on Scotland of ONS statistics that reportedly show that, between 2012 and 2015, 14.6% of people in the UK experienced living in poverty for a whole year, and whether it will provide an update on the action it is taking to tackle poverty.

Answered by: Angela Constance 12 July 2017

The ONS measures of persistent poverty look at whether people are at risk of poverty over a number of years. The most recent data shows that 14.6% of people in the UK had been at risk of poverty in only one of the years between 2012 and 2015, a further 7% had been at risk for 2 years; 4% for 3 years and, 4% had been at risk of poverty in all four years between 2012 and 2015.

These levels of poverty are completely unacceptable and are set to rise higher. The Institute of Fiscal Studies’ most recent report estimates that an additional 1.2 million children will be in relative poverty in the UK in the year 2021-22 when compared to 2014-15.

Our Fairer Scotland Action Plan sets out 50 concrete actions that we will take in this Parliamentary term. These include a £29 million programme for communities and the third sector to tackle poverty; the introduction of the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill, setting out ambitious 2030 targets; the establishment of a Poverty and Inequality Commission to provide independent advice and scrutiny; and the forthcoming consultation on a socio-economic duty, which will ensure that public bodies take full consideration of socio-economic disadvantage when making key decisions. We are already making progress on many of these actions and a full update will be published in October this year.

These and many other positive measures are happening against a backdrop of challenging welfare cuts and austerity measures from the UK government. Scottish Government has already invested over £350 million since 2013-14 to protect those on the lowest incomes from the worst of these cuts - resources that would be better invested in direct measures to reduce poverty.