Shocking health and wealth inequalities in Scotland

Published on Monday, 21 January 2013 10:13
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

A new report, published today by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) shows that, in Scotland, the number of under-25s out of work has doubled in five years and that a boy born in a wealthy area will live 14 years longer than a boy born into poverty.

Monitoring poverty and social exclusion in Scotland 2013, produced by the New Policy Institute, is JRF's sixth assessment of poverty in Scotland. Built around a set of indicators and constructed using the latest, publicly available, official government data; the report assesses a wide range of indicators including unemployment, education, and health.

The research shows that:

  • Since 2008, the number of under-25s who are unemployed has almost doubled to 90,000
  • Among those without dependent children, there was a rise in the number living in low-income, working families from 125,000 to 150,000
  • The number of people working part-time, who want a full-time job, has risen from 70,000 in 2008 to 120,000 in 2012
  • A boy born in the most deprived 10 per cent of areas has a life expectancy of 68, eight years below the national average and 14 years below boys born in the least deprived areas

The report indicates that by mid-2012, some 210,000 people in Scotland were unemployed. This represents a rise of 90,000 (80 per cent) since the low point of mid-2008. Almost half of this rise was among those aged under 25. With the onset of the recession in 2008, unemployment rose for all age groups.

Since 2010, the only subsequent rise in unemployment has been among young people.

However, the report does highlight the positive news that Scotland's child poverty rate dropped 10 percentage points in the decade to 2011, from 31 per cent to 21 per cent (from 340,000 to 220, 000) and is now lower than England's. In common with the rest of the UK, pensioner poverty dropped substantially, from 230,000 to 120,000.

Its starkest findings are in the figures for the health of the nation. While cancer mortalities fell across the country, in the poorest areas there was barely any change at all. There was a steep fall in deaths from coronary heart disease in the poorest parts of Scotland, but the rate of mortality in these areas is still twice the Scottish average.

And in figures that may alarm policy makers and politicians alike, the report highlight the tens of thousands of people who risk losing their disability living allowance or employment support allowance due to a combination of different changes to the social security system. Report author, Tom MacInnes said:

With the political debate dominated by the referendum on independence, it's important to point out that the issues that are central to tackling poverty, such as health, childcare, schools and housing fall within current legislative powers of the Scottish Government. The problems highlighted in this report cannot wait; action can and should be taken now.

Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) said:

This report presents clear and unambiguous evidence of the poverty levels among working age adults, rising numbers of people working part-time for want of a full-time job, high unemployment among young people and some shocking statistics on the health of a nation. Not to act upon these findings, risks condemning this and future generations to a cycle or poor health and no wealth.

Source: ©JRF

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