Inequality report: Top 1% of Scots have more than bottom 50%

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The gap between rich and poor in Scotland is increasing as the wealthiest continue to prosper at a faster rate, official figures have revealed.

Poor homes do not have the capacity to build up wealth, a Scottish Government report found, meaning some Scots face “a lifetime of low wealth despite being in employment”.

The poorest Scots spend a greater proportion of their income on fuel bills. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL

The poorest Scots spend a greater proportion of their income on fuel bills. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL

The richest one per cent north of the border owns more wealth than the bottom 50 per cent, with the poorest 40 per cent of households 9.4 times worse off in 2012/14 than the top 10 per cent, compared with 8.8 times in 2010/12.

The research paper found that the least wealthy 30 per cent of households “have very few assets, with employment no longer a guarantee against low wealth.”

Labour called for the Scottish Government to use “progressive tax powers” to stop cuts and invest in services to help the poorest.

But SNP ministers said inequality in Scotland had been “exacerbated” by UK Government austerity.

Image: Scottish Government

Image: Scottish Government

The report, published today, examined the personal wealth owned north of the border, including property, financial wealth such as investments and savings, private pensions, and physical wealth such as cars and jewellery.

Private households in Scotland have increased in wealth by 22 per cent in two years to a total of £865.6 billion.

The figures show the increase in wealth from 2010/12 to 2012/14 is the largest since 2006/08, with the richest 10 per cent of households owning 43 per cent of all private net wealth - worth £374 billion.

However, the poorest half of households, all those with a net wealth of £186,500 or under, owned just nine per cent of all private wealth, worth £76.9 billion.

Equalities Secretary Angela Constance said the Scottish Government is “passionate about creating a fairer and more equal Scotland”, and is already taking action to tackle inequalities, including introducing a Child Poverty Bill and encouraging employers to pay the real living wage.

She said inequality in Scotland had been “exacerbated” by UK Government austerity and Brexit uncertainty.

She added: “Much of the work we are undertaking is included in our Fairer Scotland Action Plan, which outlines 50 concrete and ambitious actions to help create a fair, smart and inclusive Scotland by 2030.

“These actions include expanding funding of early learning and childcare, and reducing the attainment gap in schools, while the £29 million Aspiring Communities Fund will support communities and the third sector in developing new ways to help people overcome disadvantage.

“We will continue to look at developing new ways to help people overcome disadvantage and we need all of Scotland to work together to achieve this.”

Scottish Labour economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “Just a week after it emerged the SNP had rewritten an independent report on poverty to cancel out criticism of their council cuts, their own figures show that the gap between the richest and the rest has grown on their watch.

“The SNP are cutting £170million from services the poorest Scots rely on, bringing the total to £1.5 billion since 2011. These figures highlight the need for the Nationalists to get back to the day job and make Scotland a fairer place to bring up a family instead of further dividing communities with another independence referendum.

“Labour has time and time again put forward a progressive plan to use the tax powers of the Scottish Parliament to stop the cuts and invest in services instead.”

The report found the median wealth of the richest 10 per cent in Scotland was £1.34 million, while the median wealth of the poorest 10 per cent was just £6,300.

The total private wealth in Scotland is £866 billion, with private pension value accounting for 48 per cent of that total. Property wealth accounts foe 28 per cent.