Scottish poverty rate remains ‘a shameful stain on our collective conscience’

Hands holding an empty wallet

Oxfam Scotland has called on the Scottish and UK Governments to use their tax powers to raise the urgently needed extra funds to invest in tackling Scotland’s poverty problem, as new official figures show that more than 1 in 5 (21%) people still face this injustice.  

Shamefully, while the figures show virtually no change in child poverty in Scotland, compared to a rise at UK level, almost 1 in 4 (24%) children in Scotland still live in poverty.  

While Scottish Government modelling suggests the interim legal target of fewer than 18% of children in poverty could be met when the figure for 2023-24 is known, largely due to the positive impact of the Scottish Child Payment, insufficient new investment is throwing into serious jeopardy the target that fewer than 1 in 10 children live in poverty by 2030.  

Today’s statistics also show that the poverty rate remains high for particular groups, with the poverty rate for non-white minority ethnic groups, such as black people or people of mixed race, particularly shocking at 51%. Single women with children (29%) and people living in a household where someone has a disability (24%) also remain at greater risk of poverty.  

Oxfam Scotland has branded the figures ‘a shameful stain on our collective conscience’ and is calling on both the UK and Scottish Governments to significantly boost spending on poverty-busting public services and support, with this funded by implementing a series of common-sense taxes that target wealth and the better off. 

Campaigners estimate that a UK Government wealth tax on British millionaires and billionaires at a rate of between one to two per cent on net wealth above £10 million could generate up to £22 billion each year.  

Oxfam Scotland is also calling for the Scottish Government to use its upcoming consultation on a new Tax Strategy to rethink devolved taxes and align them with its commitments to reduce poverty, including by prioritising meaningful reform of the Council Tax instead of a rates freeze, which does little to help those on the lowest incomes.   

Campaigners say the cash raised through fairer taxes could help pull people out of poverty by bolstering social security entitlements and access to vital public services, like sustainably expanding funded childcare, while helping people access good jobs by improving employability support.  

The call comes as today’s data shows that income inequality in Scotland remains deeply entrenched, with the top 10% of households having increased their share of total income, now with 53% more income (after housing costs) than the bottom 40% put together, reinforcing the need for fair taxes to share income and wealth more evenly. 

Lewis Ryder-Jones, Advocacy Adviser for Oxfam Scotland, said: “Scotland’s stubbornly high poverty rate exists alongside entrenched and growing inequality and casts a long and shameful shadow that blights lives and stamps on potential. Behind these stark statistics are families across the country who are worried about how they’re going to put food on the table, pensioners who are petrified of putting the heating on, and those who find themselves at significantly greater risk of poverty as a result of their gender, their ethnicity or if they have a disability. The people of Scotland know this isn’t right, and so do our politicians.  

“Poverty isn’t inevitable; it’s a burning injustice and the result of a failure of political action. which will be compounded by the recent UK and Scottish Budgets. Both governments must urgently shift gears and implement the fair, feasible and far-reaching tax reforms required to reduce growing inequalities and enable significant investment in the vital support and services needed, not just to turn the page on poverty but to close the book.”  


For more information and interviews, please contact: Rebecca Lozza, Oxfam Media and Communications Adviser, Scotland and Wales: / 07917738450