Key facts

Too many people in Scotland are still trapped in poverty.

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 is less than 60% of the average income for that household type. A more detailed explanation can be obtained on the Scottish Government poverty statistics website.  We are using statistics for poverty after housing costs unless otherwise stated.

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 Community and our own Experts by Experience Panel aim to give voice to this and to highlight the detrimental effects of living on low incomes.

  • 1 in 4 children in Scotland (24%) were living in poverty in 2020-23.
  • 1 in 5 working age people (21%) in Scotland were living in poverty in 2020-23.
  • 15% of pensioners in Scotland were living in poverty in 2020-23.
  • 60% of working age adults in poverty and 70% of children in poverty lived in a household where someone was in paid work in 2020-23.

(source: Scottish Government poverty statistics)

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

  • In 2018-23, people from non-white minority ethnic groups were more likely to be in relative poverty after housing costs compared to those from the ‘White – British’ and ‘White – Other’ groups. The poverty rate was 50% for the ‘Asian or Asian British’ ethnic groups, and 51% for ‘Mixed, Black or Black British and Other’ ethnic groups. This does not take into account differences in the age profiles of the ethnic groups which explains some, but not all, of this difference in poverty rates.
  • The youngest households in Scotland are more likely to be in poverty. In 2020-23 39% of households where the head of the household was aged between 16 and 24 were in poverty, higher than older households.
  • 24% of those who lived in a household with a disabled household member lived in poverty in 2020-23.

(source: Scottish Government poverty statistics)

There are high levels of inequality in Scotland.

  • In 2020-23 the top 10% of the population had 34% more income (before housing costs) than the bottom forty percent combined. (source: Scottish Government income inequality statistics)
  • In the latest data from just before the pandemic a typical household in the wealthiest 10% of households had £1.7 million in total wealth, compared to £7,600 in the least wealthy 10% of households.  (source: Scottish Government wealth statistics)
  • In 2019-21, healthy life expectancy for men in the most deprived areas of Scotland was 26 years lower than in the least deprived areas, and for women the difference was almost 25 years. (source: National Records of Scotland)

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