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Poverty figures show "impact of UK cuts" – Constance

Published: 28 Jun 2016 10:08

Statistics show people living in poverty despite mitigation measures.

New figures show people are continuing to live in poverty despite the best efforts of the Scottish Government to mitigate the impact of UK wide welfare cuts, according to Communities Secretary Angela Constance.

Published today, the Poverty and Income Inequality in Scotland 2014-15 figures show 18% of people in Scotland were living in poverty after housing costs.

While poverty before housing costs increased by 1 percentage point to 15%, a real terms decrease in housing costs for Scotland's lowest income families meant poverty AHC was unchanged in the latest year.

Child poverty before housing costs increased to 17% however, after housing costs, child poverty was unchanged, reflecting the real terms decrease in housing costs for the lowest income families.

Communities, Social Security and Equalities Secretary Angela Constance described the figures as "further proof of the damaging impact of UK Government welfare changes".

Ms Constance said:

"Poverty is a scourge in our communities and we are determined to tackle it by doing all we can, wherever we can, to reduce the harm it causes.

"However, despite spending £100 million a year tackling the negative impacts of the UK government's welfare changes, including fully mitigating the bedroom tax, people are still living in poverty.

"Not only does this spend have a direct impact on the money available for the Scottish Government to address the longer term cycles of poverty, but the continued UK cuts mean the effect is limited to helping people to standstill – not improving their situation. This is doubly and deeply frustrating, especially where tackling child poverty is concerned.

"We know the causes of poverty are complex. For example, increases in parental employment and decreases in the number of children living in workless households mean fewer children are living in material deprivation. However, two thirds of children in poverty were living in working households in 2014/15. This shows how important the living wage is to ensuring a decent standard of living for workers and their families and why we are determined to continue to promote it. We will also be able to address this further through our inclusive growth agenda - growing the economy will help us to tackle inequalities.

"The real terms decrease in housing costs is welcomed, suggesting that our ambitious investment on affordable housing, and our changes to regulation in the private rented sector are targeted in the right areas."

"If we needed further proof of the damaging impact of UK Government welfare reforms, today's figures do that. It is abundantly clear the approach the UK Government is taking to welfare reform is causing real damage and undermining the work we are doing to try and lift people out of poverty.

"I want to see a fairer future for families across Scotland. And I don't want to see children living in poverty. I will be looking closely in the coming weeks at all the options available to me to tackle this issue. And I will be doing all I can to stand up for those who need it the most and fight against further damaging UK welfare changes."

Notes to editors

Please see statistics at http://gov.scot/Publications/2016/06/3468.