Quarter of Scots think poverty ‘due to laziness’

More than a quarter of Scots believe poverty is a result of laziness, according to a new poll published by a charity.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at Cyrenians with Ewan Aitken and cookery tutor Sue O'Neill. Picture: Julie Bull
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at Cyrenians with Ewan Aitken and cookery tutor Sue O'Neill. Picture: Julie Bull

The poll, commissioned by Cyrenians as part of its newly launched Tell Your Story campaign, found that 28 per cent held that view – while 24 per cent believe a lack of willpower was another contributory factor.

Unemployment (76 per cent), addiction (59 per cent) and family circumstances (56 per cent) were also among the main causes of poverty, according to those polled.

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All five leaders of Scotland’s main political parties, as well as celebrities including Irvine Welsh, Mark Greenaway, Brian Cox, Grant Stott, Bill Paterson and Mark Cousins have backed the new campaign.

Cyrenians wants people to tell their own story of facing poverty in a bid to change public perceptions of those in need.

In order to tackle poverty, Cyrenians aims over the next five years to increase the number of people it supports annually from 4400 to 6000. The expansion was announced during an event attended by leading chef Mark Greenaway at Cyrenians’ Good Food depot in Jane Street.

Cyrenians chief executive Ewan Aitken said: “The Scottish public clearly believe that the type of support provided by Cyrenians, such as working with people in danger of becoming excluded from their family or home at an early stage and working with those most at risk, are the best ways to reduce poverty rather than blunt financial instruments or stigmatising language.

“We want to build on that and challenge any perception amongst the public that those in poverty are only there through laziness or lack of willpower.

“Politicians, along with the rest of society, must stand up and tackle the causes of poverty and change public perceptions.

“To do that we must work to prevent people from feeling excluded from family, home, work or the wider community.

“We should remember that we all have a past, a present and a future, so we are urging people to tell your story.”

The poll also found that Scots believe early intervention and working with those most at risk, along with providing more jobs, are the best ways to reduce poverty.

A total of 1069 adults were questioned from October 5-7.

A statement signed by Nicola Sturgeon, Kezia Dugdale, 
Willie Rennie, Patrick Harvie and Ruth Davidson was also released to back the campaign.

It read: “There is a growing perception that people in our society living in some kind of poverty, be it absolute poverty, fuel poverty, food poverty or perhaps struggling to overcome another problem such as addiction, are in some way to be blamed for their fate. That is a perception that we must all work together to change.”