Households forced to go without food before payday

Derek Mitchell, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Scotland
Derek Mitchell, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Scotland
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More than a third of Scottish workers who run out of money before payday have gone without food for their household at least once over the past year, according to new figures published today.

Polling for Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) revealed that 47 per cent of Scottish people in work have run out of money before payday at least once in the past year.

Of those workers, 35 per cent have had to go without food for their household at least once over the past year as a result.

The research, compiled by data analytics firm YouGov, is published as the Scottish Government is expected to announce options for an income supplement later this week. A report by think tanks IPPR Scotland and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation earlier this year warned that without new measures being introduced, 50,000 more children will fall into poverty between 2017/18 and 2023/24 – the equivalent of 25 children a day entering into relative poverty.

CAS chief executive Derek Mitchell said: “A rising cost of living, changes to social security and a prevalence of low paid, insecure work means that Scotland is facing unacceptable levels of poverty.”

He added: “The research data we publish today exposes the extent of that problem. Nearly half of Scottish workers occasionally run out of money before payday and one third of those who do have had to go without food as a result.

“This of course doesn’t include those who are not in work, whose income is maybe even less.

“This is an unacceptable situation and it is clear that serious solutions are required.

“We hope to see progress on the income supplement this coming week as well as the right to food being enshrined in Scots law through the Good Food Nation Bill this parliament.”

Only 27 per cent of people surveyed said they never run out of money before payday, with just 60 per cent of those people saying their money shortage never forced them to go without food.

A total of 1,012 adults were surveyed across three days in March to compile the research.

Scotland is the only country in the UK with far-reaching targets in law that aim to effectively eradicate child poverty by 2030. As part of the Child Poverty Delivery Plan in 2018, the Scottish Government committed to introducing an income supplement via social security as part of their statutory duty to loosen the grip of child poverty.

What form this extra benefit might take will be laid out in an update to be put before parliament in coming days.

Previous polling by YouGov this year had shown more than three-quarters of people in Scotland believed workers who had to claim benefits worked hard, but their wages were not enough to cover living costs.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The UK government’s welfare cuts continue to be one of the leading causes of food insecurity and we are doing everything we can to mitigate their impact and ensure people have enough income to feed themselves and their families.”

He added: “We have introduced a package of support worth over £125 million annually to mitigate the negative impacts of such cuts and help support those on low incomes.

“We have also increased our Fair Food Fund to £3.5m this year to continue supporting organisations that help to tackle the causes of food insecurity.

“Furthermore, we have launched a new Financial Health Check service – implemented in partnership with Citizens Advice Scotland and backed by £3.3m of funding over two years – to help the most vulnerable people in our society to maximise their incomes.”