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 Community aim to give voice to this and to highlight the detrimental effects of living on low incomes.

  • 1 in 4 children in Scotland (24%) are living in poverty
  • 1 in 5 working age people (19%) in Scotland are living in poverty
  • 15% of pensioners in Scotland are living in poverty
  • 60% of working age adults in poverty and 65% 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.

  • In 2014-19, 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 39% for the ‘Asian or Asian British’ ethnic groups, and 38% for ‘Mixed, Black or Black British and Other’ ethnic groups.
  • The poverty rate amongst the ‘White – Other’ group was 25% (80,000 people) and that of the ‘White – British’ group was 18% (860,000 people).
  • 39% of single women with children are living in poverty.
  • 29% of those who live with a disabled household member live in poverty.

There have been some improvements in poverty:

  • 15 years ago 25% of pensioners in Scotland were living in poverty, compared to 15% now
  • After a long fall between 1999-02 and 2010-13, which halted briefly just before the recession, child poverty rates had been rising again but did not rise in the latest periods.

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

  • In 2016-19, the top ten percent of the population had 24% more income than the bottom forty percent combined.

There are high levels of inequality in Scotland.

  • 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.
  • A boy born in 2018 in one of the 10% most deprived areas of Scotland would have a life expectancy 13 years shorter than a boy from the most affluent area.
  • 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.
  • A girl born in 2018 in one of the 10% most deprived areas of Scotland would have a life expectancy 10 years shorter than a girl from the most affluent area.
  • 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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