Publication - Research and analysis

Public Attitudes to Poverty, Inequality and Welfare in Scotland and Britain

Published: 24 Mar 2015
ISBN:
9781785441967

This report sets out public attitudes to poverty, inequality and welfare in Scotland and Britain, from a range of previously published sources. The report focuses on Scottish findings wherever possible, presenting British data as a proxy where Scottish data is not available.

Public Attitudes to Poverty, Inequality and Welfare in Scotland and Britain
1. Introduction

1. Introduction

1.1. This report sets out public attitudes to poverty, inequality and welfare in Scotland and Britain, from a range of sources.

Background

1.2. In 2012/13, there were a total of 820,000 individuals living in relative poverty (before housing costs) in Scotland. This represents 16% of the population. The total included 180,000 children (19% of all children); 480,000 working age adults (15% of all working age adults); and 150,000 pensioners (15% of all pensioners).[1]

1.3. In 2012/13, the relative poverty (before housing costs) threshold in Scotland was equivalent to £264 a week for a couple with no children, £177 a week for a single person with no children, £317 a week for a single person with two children aged 5 and 14 and £404 a week for a couple with two children aged 5 and 14.[2]

1.4. Projections from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) suggest that that the numbers living in relative poverty will increase due to welfare reform. The IFS analysis estimated implications for income poverty on the basis of changes tax and benefit policy and forecasts for the macroeconomy. This concluded that an additional 50,000 children and 150,000 working age adults will be living in poverty by 2020 due to welfare reform (before housing costs)[3].

1.5. The Scottish Government is committed to tackling poverty and taking action to mitigate negative impacts of welfare reform. The approach to tackling poverty focuses on early intervention and prevention, tackling the root causes and building people's capabilities through universal entitlements, income maximisation and promoting children's life chances. This approach is outlined in its three key social policy frameworks, Equally Well, the Early Years Framework and Achieving our Potential[4].

1.6. In addition, the Scottish Government[5] has a Child Poverty Strategy designed to reduce the levels of poverty amongst households with children and to break inter-generational cycles of poverty, inequality and deprivation. Its actions are focused around the three outcomes of maximising household resources; improving children's wellbeing and life chances; and ensuring children grow up in well designed, sustainable places.

Data sources

1.7. This paper outlines public attitudes to poverty, inequality and welfare in Scotland and Britain. It uses published data from the British Social Attitudes Survey (BSA), Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (SSA), a 2013 Scotpulse survey on attitudes to child poverty in Scotland, the Poverty and Social Exclusion "Necessities of Life" Survey 2012, a 2012 survey on benefits stigma and 2013/14 qualitative research on attitudes to poverty from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). Details of the methodology of the five sources are provided in Annex A.

1.8. This paper presents Scottish data where available. Since the SSA does not ask about poverty as frequently or as comprehensively as the BSA does, for some questions only British data is available. However, Scottish and British attitudes to poverty are relatively similar, as demonstrated where the same question was asked in both the British and Scottish attitudes surveys. Therefore BSA findings can be used as a reasonable proxy for Scottish attitudes. The BSA includes a sample of approximately 300 Scottish respondents in its sample, so Scottish attitudes are included in the British attitudes. However, due to the size of the sample, extracting Scottish data from the BSA findings would not provide reliable findings.


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