Pensioner poverty rate higher in Scotland than rest of UK

Pensioners in Scotland are more likely to be in poverty than elsewhere in the UK.
Pensioners in Scotland are more likely to be in poverty than elsewhere in the UK.
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The poverty rate among pensioners in Scotland is higher than the UK average, a new report has revealed.

A total of 14.2 million people in Britain are living in poverty, including 4.5m children, according to a wide ranging report into the issue from the Social Metrics Commission (SMC). In Scotland, poverty was generally lower than other regions of Britain, except for pensioners, where the rate is higher than other nations except Wales - and above the UK average.

The SMC also said "inescapable" costs, like childcare and disability, should be considered alongside income when measuring poverty in the UK.

The report reveals that people with a disability are much more likely to be living in poverty than previously thought, with around half of the 14.2 million people in poverty living in families with a disabled person. However, while across Britain, far fewer pensioners live in poverty now following a significant reduction of poverty amongst pension age couples over the last 15 years, retirees in Scotland are more likely to struggle financially.

The study said: "The only exception for Scotland is in pensioner poverty, which is higher in Scotland than the UK average."

Rob Gowans, policy officer at Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “CAB advisers often see older people who are struggling financially. One of the problems we have found is that older people often don’t claim the benefits they are entitled to, either because they are unaware of them or because of perceived stigma. Anyone who is finding it difficult to make ends meet can get a free benefits check at their local CAB, where we will look at their circumstances and let them know what extra help they are entitled to, and help them claim it.”

Philippa Stroud, chair of SMC and CEO of Legatum Institute said: “For too long it has been possible to have a debate about the measurement of poverty. Now I call on people and organisations across, and outside of, the political spectrum to support this new measure of poverty so that we can all put our energy into creating the policies and solutions that build pathways out of poverty.”

Helen Barnard, head of analysis at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and SMC commissioner, said: "For too long we have been stuck in debates about how to measure poverty. Working as part of the Social Metrics Commission has shown how much we share. We all want to live in a society where people have the resources to meet their needs, and to open up opportunities for people to build a better life. We call on the government, the Office for National Statistics and all of those working to solve poverty, to support this new measure of poverty and concentrate now on taking action to loosen the grip of poverty on people’s lives.”