What Would Make a Difference for Scotland?


This research report was produced for the Poverty and Inequality Commission and identifies the policies and scenarios which appear to offer the biggest gains in reducing child poverty in Scotland. 

Professor Glen Bramley, from the Institute for Social Policy, Housing, Equalities Research at Heriot Watt University,  adapted and used an existing set of models to provide an independent assessment of the potential impact of a range of policy interventions on poverty and inequality .

A modelling framework was developed to enable the testing of a wide range of policy and contextual scenarios over a medium-to-longer term time horizon for the whole of the UK. This framework links a dynamic macro-simulation of demography, housing and labour markets at sub-regional scale with a micro-simulation to generate snapshots of poverty and related outcomes at household level. The main focus is on poverty outcomes for different groups, but the models also generate a wider set of outcomes, notably housing affordability, tenure and demographic change as well as inequality measures and some fiscal impacts.

The models originally developed to address housing and planning issues, and then subsequently to inform the JRF strategy to Solve UK Poverty, have been adapted in this exercise to address a range of options to help Scotland in trying to meet its re-affirmed Child Poverty reduction targets, focussed on the target year of 2030 (in this exercise, 2031).  Each policy scenario is compared with a baseline representing ‘carrying on as we are’. Scenarios were constructed that tested policy options under three main headings:

  • Social security, including features of Universal Credit and general levels of benefit
  • Work and wages, including minimum/living wage and interaction with taxes
  • Housing costs, including acting on these directly through regulation or tenure change, or indirectly through increasing supply.

In the conclusion the report emphasises that is important to underline that the Scottish Government has more direct levers in relation to some of these scenarios than others and it suggests the areas in which the Government could make an impact on child poverty.

The report was completed in March 2018 as part of a package of work by Policy Scotland for the Poverty and Inequality Commission.

Download the publication

What Would a Make a Difference for Scotland? (PDF)