Key facts

Poverty statistics in Scotland look at how the lowest income households compare with average income households. A household is considered to be in poverty if their income if less than 60% of the average income for that household type. A more detailed explanation can be obtained on the Scottish Government website.  We are using statistics for poverty after housing costs.

These statistics highlight the scale of the problem, however do not touch on how this impacts on the lives of those whose options are limited by living on a low income; organisations such as the Poverty Truth Commission aim to give voice to this and to highlight the detrimental effects of living on low incomes.

  • 1 in 4 children in Scotland (26%) are living in poverty
  • 1 in 5 working age people (20%) in Scotland are living in poverty
  • 13% of pensioners in Scotland are living in poverty
  • 58% of people in poverty and 70% of children in poverty live in a household where someone is in employment.

We know that some groups of people have a higher risk of poverty than others.

  • 35% of Minority Ethnic people are in poverty as opposed to 18% of White British people
  • 45% of lone parents are living in poverty
  • 23% of people in a family with a disabled adult live in poverty

There have been some improvements in poverty:

  • 15 years ago 25% of pensioners in Scotland were living in poverty, compared to 13% now
  • Child poverty fell by 13% between 2000/01 and 2011/12, but has started to increase again

Poverty in Scotland is predicted to rise over the new few years if action is not taken to address it.

There are high levels of inequality in Scotland.

  •  In 2015/16 the top 10% of the population in Scotland had 38% more income than the bottom 40% combined.
  • In 2012-2014 the wealthiest 1% of private households owned more wealth than the bottom 50%.
  • In 2015-16 men in the most deprived areas of Scotland were expected to live 26 fewer years in good health than those in the least deprived areas and were expected to die 13 years earlier.
  • In 2015-16 women in the most deprived areas of Scotland were expected to live 22 fewer years in good health than those in the least deprived areas and were expected to die 9 years earlier.
  • At age five, children in families in the highest 20% of earners were around 13 months ahead in their vocabulary compared with children in families in the bottom 20% of earners.
  • By the time they leave school, young people in the 20% least deprived areas of Scotland are almost twice as likely to achieve one or more Highers or Advanced Highers compared to young people in the 20% most deprived areas.

Publications and Resources of interest

If you wish to find out more a wide range of reports and research will provide information on the different aspects of poverty and inequality. Some of these are noted below;

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