Poverty survey paints bleak picture of life in UK

AUSTERITY is hitting families hard across Britain and Scotland according to a survey which suggests thousands of people are finding it hard to pay for basics like heating, clothing and food.

The Poverty and Social Exclusion report, the biggest survey of deprivation across the UK, found that a third of adults now suffer from some form of financial insecurity, with more than a quarter admitting they can neither save £20 a month nor put money away for a pension.

Just under one in ten households say they are unable to heat the living areas of their homes, up from just 3 per cent in the 1990s. People now say they consider around 33 per cent of Britons to be suffering from a lifestyle of “multiple deprivation”.

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Households are suffering marginally less badly in Scotland compared to the UK as a whole, however.

More than 14,000 people across the UK, and 2,700 in Scotland, took part in the survey, which was conducted by a number of universities.

Nick Bailey, of Glasgow University, said: “These findings paint a very bleak picture of life for large numbers of people living in low-income households in Scotland today. There is little comfort in the fact that levels of deprivation appear to be even worse in the rest of the UK. The absolute numbers in Scotland are still shocking.”

The findings come with political focus centred on the impact of welfare cuts due to kick in next week when the new financial year begins.

The results show that, compared to previous surveys in 1983, 1990 and 1999, the situation facing poor households today is worse than before.

On housing, 9 per cent of UK families cannot afford enough bedrooms for every child aged ten or over of a different sex to have their own room, up from 3 per cent in 1999. One in six children lives in a home which is either damp or not adequately heated.

On food, one in 20 people in Scotland say they cannot afford an adequate diet. On clothing, 7 per cent of adults said they could not afford basic items of clothing, such as a warm coat or two pairs of shoes.

Professor Glen Bramley, of Heriot-Watt University, said: “The situation is already serious but it is set to get worse. The decline in living standards and the high level of financial insecurity pose an enormous challenge for both the Scottish and Westminster governments.”