Poverty levels broadly stable

Latest National and Official Statistics published.

The latest poverty statistics, covering the period to March 2022, show little recent change in poverty levels for children, working-age adults and pensioners.

Two out of the four child poverty measures in the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act (relative and absolute poverty) are broadly stable. Persistent poverty is gradually increasing, and the material deprivation measure continues to be affected by the pandemic.

While the poverty risk is much lower for children where someone in the household is in paid work compared to those in workless households, not all work pays enough to lift the household above the poverty line. Over two thirds of children in poverty live in a household with someone in paid work.

Working-age adults and pensioners are less likely to be in poverty compared to children: 15% of pensioners and 21% of working-adults are in relative poverty after housing costs, compared to 24% of children. Poverty levels have been broadly stable for all age groups.

Adults under 25 are more likely to be in poverty than older adults. Minority ethnic households are more likely to be in poverty compared to white British households. Muslim adults are more likely to be in poverty compared to adults of Christian and other faiths and those with no religion. Some, but not all, of the higher poverty risk for minority ethnic groups and Muslims can be explained by their lower average age. Single adults, especially single parents, and those who are divorced or separated are more likely to be in poverty compared to married, cohabiting and widowed adults. People living in households with disabled household members are also more likely to be in poverty than those with no disabled household members.


The two full statistical publications are available here:

Poverty and Income Inequality in Scotland contains statistics on poverty, child poverty, poverty risks for various equality characteristics, household income and income inequality for Scotland. This report also includes new statistics on household food security. The data comes from the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Family Resources Survey, Households Below Average Income dataset. Comparable UK income and poverty figures are published on the same day by DWP.

Figures are presented as three-year averages of each estimate. Three-year estimates best identify trends over time. Single-year estimates are also available in the reference tables. The latest poverty and household income data in this report covers the period from April 2019 to March 2022.

The COVID-19 pandemic continued to impact on data collection and sample sizes. This resulted in more volatile estimates in the most recent period. In addition, data collected during the year between April 2020 and March 2021 was excluded from the most recent estimates as the data was not robust.

Persistent Poverty in Scotland presents estimates of the proportion of people in Scotland who live in persistent poverty. The data comes from the Understanding Society Survey, and the latest statistics cover the period from 2017 to 2021.

These poverty statistics are used by the Scottish Government and other organisations to monitor progress in tackling poverty and child poverty, and to analyse what drives poverty and what works for tackling poverty and income inequality.

Official statistics are produced in accordance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

Key poverty measures:

  • Relative poverty: A household is in relative poverty if its income is below 60 percent of the middle household income in the UK (the poverty threshold). Relative poverty is a measure of whether the income of the poorest households are keeping pace with middle income households across the UK
  • Absolute poverty: A household is in absolute poverty if its income is below the relative poverty threshold from 2010/11. This way, it measures whether the incomes of the poorest households are keeping pace with rising prices
  • Combined low income and material deprivation identifies the number of children in families that cannot afford basic essential goods and services because of a low income (below 70 percent of the middle household income)
  • Persistent poverty identifies the number of people in relative poverty for three or more out of four years. People who live in poverty for several years are affected by it through their lifetime

Household income is adjusted for household size.

The poverty publications present poverty figures before and after housing costs. Before housing costs figures are a basic measure of household income from earnings and benefits. After housing costs figures subtract spending on rents, mortgage interest payments and other unavoidable housing costs from this basic income. In Scotland, poverty statistics focus mainly on poverty after housing costs. The poverty estimates in this summary refer to relative poverty after housing costs.

Further information on income and poverty statistics within Scotland is available.


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