How to Use the Data
What are these statistics for?
Local authorities and others have been asking the Scottish Government to publish local child poverty statistics for some years, but this has been difficult, because the Family Resources Survey, which is used for the national measures, does not have a large enough sample to produce statistics for every Scottish local authority. By introducing new questions on material deprivation in the Scottish Household Survey, we have now been able to produce combined low income and material deprivation statistics. These should help local partners with their anti-poverty work. The statistics show, for example, that some areas have more or fewer problems with these issues than the national average. The statistics also show which types of households are most affected, helping local partners to target their activities appropriately.
Do these statistics replace the national estimates of combined low income and material deprivation, included in the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill?
No. These statistics are only produced for local purposes. They use a different methodology and are drawn from a different survey. The official statistics at national level are those included within the annual Poverty and Income Inequality Statistics publication, which is available here: http://www.gov.scot/publications/poverty-income-inequality-scotland-2015-16/
Why are the estimates of combined low income and material deprivation different between the two surveys? Which one should we be using?
The most important difference between the two measures is the definition of material deprivation, because the two surveys look at slightly different necessities. Data analysis showed that for the local measure, being unable to afford three or more necessities is the best definition of material deprivation. This definition includes a wider group of families compared to the national measure. The low income measure is also different, because the Scottish Household Survey collects more limited financial information, and the estimate of median income is based on a Scottish rather than a UK median. The official statistics at national level should be used as a high level figure to monitor child poverty nationally and for comparison with other UK countries. The local measure should be used for targeting anti-poverty interventions and monitoring progress at a local level.
Why do we have different measures of poverty?
People's incomes give a good estimate of poverty, but it's helpful to consider other issues too. For example, some people have higher costs of living and a low income affects them more strongly. Other people on low incomes may cope better because they get a lot of help from family and friends. That's why there are different child poverty measures, and the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill, which has just been passed by parliament, includes four of them. The new experimental statistics in this booklet provide local estimates, so we get more detail about where in Scotland children are at risk of poverty.