Child Poverty in Scotland
Scotland is currently struggling with high levels of child poverty affecting about 25 percent of children. Living in poverty has been shown to have a negative impact on a child’s school performance and overall health, making them more likely to remain in poverty throughout their life. Unfortunately, the rates of child poverty in Scotland have been increasing in recent years, so in 2017, the government was prompted to take action.

The Impact of Poverty on Children

When a child grows up in poverty, they are predisposed to both health and education issues. By the time a child in poverty reaches five years old, they are already underperforming in comparison to their peers from higher income homes, with an education discrepancy of 10 months in problem-solving and 13 months in vocabulary. Similarly, by the age of three, children in poverty are more than twice as likely to develop a chronic illness. In addition to problems with physical health, children in poverty are prone to mental health issues as well.

These risks not only have a significant impact on an individual’s future and overall wellbeing but also create a financial burden on the community. Child poverty is estimated to cost The United Kingdom £29 billion every year, according to a 2013 study. This is a combination of costs to the health care system, the economy and policy efforts. Reducing the rate of child poverty in Scotland would not just improve the lives of the individuals afflicted but also the state of the country’s economy as a whole.

According to The Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s report “Poverty in Scotland 2018,” around 230,000 kids suffer from poverty. This is caused by a number of factors, including unemployment and underemployment, lack of benefits, high housing prices, inability to afford childcare and single-parent households. Most children who suffer from child poverty in Scotland have parents that are unable to work full time because they can’t afford childcare or one of them is disabled. Additionally, 36 percent of impoverished children live in a single parent home. While rates of child poverty in Scotland had been decreasing since the 1990’s, as of 2011 they have been on the rise again.

The Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill

The government has taken steps towards solving the issue of child poverty in Scotland by unanimously passing The Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill in 2017. This legislation requires that, by 2030, the number of children living in relative poverty be reduced from one in four to one in 10. The number of children living in absolute poverty must also be decreased from 21 percent to 5 percent, along with a number of other targets. The Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill is a meaningful first step towards eradicating child poverty from the region and demonstrates the government’s dedication to the issue.

There are a number of effective solutions to address child poverty in Scotland. Making changes to the benefits system, ensuring living wages and increasing preschool education and childcare should be prioritized. Also, the existing barrier to education needs to be removed through programs offering school clothing grants, transportation, free lunches and financial assistance for class trips.

The high rates of child poverty in Scotland are a serious concern for the country, but there is hope for improvement. The government must implement practical solutions to reach its targets while charity organizations continue to offer aid to those in need.

– Georgia Orenstein

 

 

Period Poverty in Scotland
Scotland is a high-income country and is among the richest countries in the world. However, poverty has been increasing over the past several years. It has especially impacted women leading to period poverty in Scotland.

What is Period Poverty?

Period poverty is when women do not have access to sanitary products that are essential for day-to-day use like tampons and pads. Women living in poverty often have to make a choice between other necessities and sanitary products. Because of this, despite being a high-income country, many women in Scotland are still unable to afford basic sanitary products.

Period Poverty Surveys

In 2017, the Free Period Scotland campaign launched a survey with twelve questions in order to determine the scope of period poverty in Scotland. Though the pool was limited, of 747 respondents, 8 percent stated that they had limited access to sanitary supplies, 20 percent said that periods had impacted their day-to-day life such as affecting their education as well as other activities, and 4 percent said that they did not have access to any sanitary products.

Other surveys have indicated that the problem may be even greater. According to a survey of more than 2,000 people, conducted by the organization called Young Scot, that included people in varying levels of educational institutions, one in four women have difficulty accessing necessary sanitary products. Of those who participated in the survey, 70 percent have had to use alternatives such as toilet paper in place of sanitary products.

Initiatives to End Period Poverty in Scotland

Last year, the Scottish government established a six-month trial program in the city of Aberdeen. This program was run by the Community Food Initiatives North East. The goal of this trial was to find improved methods of providing free sanitary products to people living on lower incomes. After the pilot had begun, it was expanded to include several educational institutions in order to provide access for students, as well. Through this trial, more than 1,000 women were given free sanitary products.

Due to the success of the trial in Aberdeen, the government is funding an initiative to fight period poverty in Scotland and provide sanitary supplies to women from lower-income households. More than 500,000 euros will be given to the charity FareShare in the hopes of helping essential sanitary products become available to more than 18,000 people. Scotland will be the first country to create a program that gives free sanitary products to women.

The government’s new initiative will not only fight period poverty in Scotland but also represents the first step toward eliminating the stigma and difficulties that accompany menstruation. By providing access to sanitary products to those living on low income and to students in educational institutions, Scotland is changing the lives of thousands of women.

In the coming years, this new program may provide an example to other countries and other programs that will help women of all socioeconomic levels across the world.

– Lindabeth Doby
Photo: Flickr

Scotland’s Eco-Village for the Homeless
Eco-villages are defined as communities whose members seek to live lives that have as little impact on the environment as possible. These communities have been popping up all over the globe for years now, their inhabitants dedicated to being more socially, economically and ecologically sustainable. Eco-village for the homeless can provide a safe environment for people to get back on their feet before looking for permanent housing.

There can be many environmental, economic, social and health benefits to living in an eco-village. The communities encourage local economies in rural areas and often farm unprocessed and pesticide free produce. The villages reduce the release of CO2 and provide a natural habitat for indigenous ecosystems. The communities also promote less noise pollution and better air quality.

In Scotland, a local charity organization plans to implement an eco-village with the purpose of providing safe temporary housing for the homeless.

In 2015, there were over 28,000 homeless living in Scotland. Social Bite recognized the seriousness of Scotland’s homeless population back in 2012 and has been tackling social issues through business ever since.

The organization currently runs 5 different cafes throughout Scotland. The cafes run a “suspended” coffee and food program, where customers can pay for an extra beverage or lunch for a homeless person to enjoy later.

Social Bite is also conscious about employing vulnerable members of the community. A quarter of their employees were once homeless and 100 percent of the businesses profits go toward solving social problems.

Social Bite’s most recent endeavor involves the construction of an eco-village for the homeless in Edinburgh. The village is set to be made up of 10 homes that are capable of housing up to 20 people. The city council spends about $21,000 annually to provide housing and food for one person at a shelter, so the village is expected to save the government massive amounts of money.

Aside from being fiscally beneficial and sustainable, the eco-village community will also provide basic social resources. This includes job training, therapy, financial advice, literacy training and basic education. The goal of the services is to help the tenants directly as they work to move onto more permanent accommodations.

Construction on the village is set to begin in early 2017 and is expected to be up and running by the upcoming summer. Aside from being ecologically friendly, the buildings will also be completely transportable and mobile if necessary.

Social Bite and their dedication to humanitarian work have attracted the attention of celebrities such as George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio visited one of Social Bites locations this November to help raise awareness for the organization’s cause.

Overall, the construction of Scotland’s first eco-village for the homeless will provide a frugal and effective way of combating social stigma and homelessness in the country.

Peyton Jacobsen

Photo: Flickr

End child povertyThe Scottish government proposed a new bill that takes a great step to end child poverty. The bill in question is designed to halve child poverty in Scotland by 2030. On August 8, 2016, Equalities Secretary Angela Constance launched an eight-week consultation on the plans.

About one in five children in Scotland live in poverty. The bill proposes protecting families’ income by law, aiming for less than 10 percent of children to live in relative poverty, less than 5 percent in absolute poverty and less than 5 percent in persistent poverty or a low income, materially deprived home.

Relative poverty is where a family earns less than 60 percent of the national average, while absolute poverty is where earnings are less than 60 percent of the average wage in 1999. Persistent poverty is where families have been living in poverty for three out of a four-year period.

Targets outlined in the bill include ensuring more people are paid the living wage; families have access to more free or cheaper childcare and free school meals. Additionally, the government is offering better-paid jobs and greater security to parents. The measures are in place to boost family income in Scotland over the next 14 years.

The Child Poverty Action Group (Cpag), which is a group of campaigners against child poverty, welcomed the consultation into how to reduce child poverty in Scotland.

John Dickie, director of Cpag, said the bill is a “great opportunity” to help tackle the problem, but he also warned that political leaders must take responsibility as well. Dickie called for the new laws to include duties for political leaders to annually report progress. Cpag stated that the bill is not a solution to child poverty, but it would help keep child poverty in Scotland a top priority.

Constance stated that to end child poverty isn’t only a job for the government, but also the entire population of Scotland. She proposed that the government would work together with local governments, businesses and people living in poverty to help tackle child poverty in Scotland. Constance is confident that the jobs being created in Scotland will provide a real route out of poverty.

Jacqueline Venuti

Photo: The Daily Record