In recent years, various issues such as Brexit, the rising unemployment rate, the pandemic of COVID-19 and the consequent restrictions and strikes on businesses have increased poverty in Scotland. This issue and its consequences, such as child poverty in Scotland, have led to vast discontent and protest in Scotland.
Poverty and declining life expectancy for Scots
Published statistics show that life expectancy among Scottish men and women has lowered over the past seven years due to poverty expansion. Reports from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) show that the nation has the worst life expectancy among other parts of the UK. While the life expectancy of Scottish women is estimated at 81 years and men at 77 years, in England, the figure is two years higher for women and 2.5 years for men, which can be due to class differences.
Rising poverty in Britain
The latest report from The Trades Union Congress (TUC) also shows that the British people are poorer than they have been in the last ten years. The report states that the actual level of income of the people of this country has decreased by an average of about 12 thousand pounds over the last ten years, which has led to the expansion of poverty and class division in British society.
The latest research from the British charity Crisis, published late last year, shows that 170,000 families in the country are unfortunately facing homelessness. These people often spend the night on the street, public thoroughfares, car seats or night tents, which are not viewed in official British government statistics.
In addition, the challenge of homelessness has grown by almost 98% compared to 2012 and is still increasing. Homelessness declined significantly from the 1990s to 2010 in the UK. However, since 2010, as the Conservatives have got into power, it has experienced unprecedented growth, despite their many promises to build low-cost housing. Besides that, rising unemployment in Scotland has led to the rise in poverty and, consequently, the homeless problem.
Poverty Truth Community stating that one in four children in Scotland (24%), one in five (19%) in Scotland, 15% of retirees, 60% of working-age adults spend their lives in poverty, finds that 65% of poor children live in families where someone works. The community warns that if no action is taken to improve the situation, poverty in Scotland will rise sharply in the next few years.
Covid-19 increased the risk of poverty.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 has also put Scotland’s vulnerable populations at greater risk than before. The results of studies conducted in intensive care units of Scotland Hospitals imply that slum dwellers are more opposed to the acute form of COVID-19 disease and have a higher number of heart disease deaths caused by a coronavirus.
Peter Townsend (1979), a sociologist and founder of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), describes child poverty growing in families that lack the resources to eat, participation in activities, and the living conditions and amenities that are normal in the 21st century Scotland. Every child living in a home with less than 60% of the average household income (according to the governments of England and Scotland) lives in poverty.
Research shows that the most vulnerable group in Scottish society today are children. Despite ordaining child benefits, which reduced the number of children experiencing poverty in Scotland by more than 100, the country continues to fight poverty.
According to statistics of the End Child Poverty, 4.3 million children in the UK live in poverty from 2019 to 2021. In addition, almost half of the children in single-parent families live or, to be more precise, 49% of these people live in poverty. Meanwhile, 47% of children in large families (with three or more children) live in poverty.
Disgusting statistics of child poverty
Child poverty is particularly striking in Glasgow, Scotland. According to new data, one in three children in Glasgow lives in poverty. The number of young people living in poverty in any social class in Scotland has increased in the last five years. 26% of children faced poverty in Scotland before the COVID-19 pandemic. This problem has been significantly intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people in Scotland have lost their jobs, and their earnings have been declined, or they are in debt.
Poverty and economic difficulties have led to dissatisfaction in Scotland. The spirit of separatism in Scotland has been dramatically strengthened from the past due to assessments and analysts considering the pro-independence parties’ victory in the parliamentary elections as evidence of this claim.
In this regard, the leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, noted that in addition to the economic strike to citizens and companies caused by the British withdrawal from the European Union, a procedure which most Scots were opposed to;
The devastating impact of the current immigration policies on the workforce owing to the Covid-19 pandemic has led Scotland to a different path from the rest of Britain.
Who is guilty?
At the annual conference of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon said that Boris Johnson and the Conservative Government had forced these restrictions aiming to gain more control over others;
“They make us poorer and say we cannot be independent,” she said sarcastically on London’s policies. “They have cut off trade with the European Union and say we are too dependent on the rest of Britain.”
Also, a report now calls for increased action so that Scotland meets its 2030 child and family poverty targets. The report highlights the mental health impact of living on a low income through the pandemic, with the loss of support networks and the loss of childcare and schooling having a notable impact.
The report’s recommendations to support people living on low incomes better include raising investment in mental health services, including addressing the issue through targeted local activity. The Critical Institute is undertaking more action to increase the number of workers receiving the actual Living wage and ensure employability services work for everyone without consideration of age, gender, race, or other characteristics.
Nicola Sturgeon’s plan to tackle child poverty
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that the Scottish Child Payment would be doubled to £20 per week for every child from April 2022. The allowance was previously allocated as a £10 weekly subsidy to confront child poverty.
Around 400,000 children under 16 are expected to be eligible for the Scottish Child Payment at the time of distribution, with an anticipated take-up of over 300,000. The outlay is expected to be around £360 million in the first full financial year, 2023-24. This can change depending on the take-up of the benefit, and the Scottish Government must encourage benefit take-up.
Besides, based on the official announcement of the Scottish Government website in the last days of 2021, if you are a low-income worker and Test you to self-isolate, you may be able to get a £500 Self Isolation Support Grant. This is due to the unacceptable level of family and child poverty in Scotland, intensified by Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Poverty continues to be a pervasive problem throughout the UK, as that today, due to newfound factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people living in poverty is increasing. Many researchers believe that childhood poverty can be prevented in Scotland. It can be done after implementing appropriate policies to ensure an equal society, supporting people for employment, educational support, free school meals for children older than three and adequate financial support to improve people’s standards.
It’s essential to re-evaluate current policies and consider factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic to create equal opportunities for children and improve their mental and physical health.