Poverty and Inequality


National Statistics produces an annual report on poverty in Scotland entitled 'Poverty and Income Inequality in Scotland'. This publication now presents three year averaged estimates of the percentage of people, children, working age adults and pensioners living in low income households in Scotland, and other statistics on household income and income inequality. The most recent report was published in March 2019 and is available to download and view from the Scottish Government website.

Key statistics from the 2015 - 2018 report: 

  • It is estimated that 20% of Scotland’s population (1.03 million people each year) were living in relative poverty after housing costs in 2015-18. This compares to 19% (1.00 million people) in the previous period.

Key Trends

  • Poverty rates continue to rise.
  • Income inequality continues to rise.
  • Median household income is rising slowly

Income Inequality:

  • Median income before housing costs in Scotland in 2015-18 was £499 a week – an increase of only £1 per week compared to 2014-17.
  • Income inequality The Palma coefficient measures income inequality. The top 10% of the population in Scotland had 27% more income in 2015-18 than the bottom 40% combined.

Persistent Poverty

Statistics on Persistent Poverty in Scotland were published in March 2019. Persistent poverty identifies the number of individuals living in relative poverty for 3 or more of the last 4 years. This report is available for download from the Scottish Government website.

Key statistics from the 2010 – 2017 report:

  • Between 2013 and 2017, 11% of people in Scotland were in persistent poverty after housing costs. This compares to 10% in 2012-16.
  • When looking at the overall population, Scotland had lower persistent poverty rates after housing costs (11%) than England (14%) and Wales (13%), and similar levels to Northern Ireland (11%).

United Kingdom

National Statistics also produce annual reports on poverty in the UK entitled Households Below Average Income (HBAI). The reports look at estimated standards of living as determined by the level of disposable income available in that household.

Households are considered to be in relative low income if their equivalised income is below 60 per cent of median income, while they are said to be in absolute low income if their equivalised income is below 60 per cent of the 2010/11 median income adjusted for inflation.

Income is measured and adjusted to take account of household size and composition – to reflect the fact that a family of several people will need a higher income than a single person to enjoy a comparable living standard.

The reports are available on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) website and cover the period from 1994-1995 to 2017/18. The latest report available was published on 28 March 2019.

A report is also published which considers the persistence of low income - that is if a household remains in the lowest income decile for three or more years out of four. The report is titled Low Income Dynamics and is also available on the DWP website. However this report has not been updated since 2017.