Poverty Trends in Scotland 1995-2018 and Policy Change: new work with the Poverty and Inequality Commission from Policy Scotland and SPICe


From 1 July 2019 the now statutory Poverty and Inequality Commission is tasked to continue to their work as independent advisors and assessors to Scottish Ministers on all matters related to poverty and inequality in Scotland. A new Chair and Commissioners were selected and took up their role in July.

The Commission’s remit was widened in 2019 to specifically advise Ministers on the impact of policies and the use of resources in reducing poverty in Scotland. This recognises the key role that policies of the UK government and the Scottish Government play in poverty reduction efforts.

To foreground this work, Policy Scotland worked with staff members in the Poverty and Inequality Commission and the Scottish Parliament Information Centre to create a set of briefing materials that detail poverty trends in Scotland since 1995 paired with key policy changes from the UK and Scottish Governments that impacted (or are currently impacting) these trends.

These are some of the first documents that visually connect trends and policy changes in the period 1995-2018 for five measures of poverty:

  1. overall poverty
  2. child poverty
  3. pensioner poverty
  4. in-work poverty
  5. poverty for households with a disabled family member.

The policy changes in the timeline figures are not exhaustive but rather serve as highlights to consider along with the trends, and have been identified in previous research as influencing the nature and prevalence of poverty.

The briefing materials include brief information on changes to the Scottish social security system since 2016 and a more detailed timeline of policy changes that combine all those included in the figures with additional information.

Published as part of Policy Scotland’s contribution to Challenge Poverty Week 2019