High rise flats

Poverty and vulnerability

In the first week of our course we learned about the links between poverty and risk.

We learned how children and young people are more likely to be involved in child protection procedures in families which are dependent upon state benefits. We learned how children and young people are more likely to end up in the care of the state when they live in areas of deprivation. We also learned how poverty also holds particular risks for children and young people with regards to outcomes associated with education and health.

In a climate of austerity and increasing budget cuts to key social services these are worrying factors. Two definitions of poverty are used by the Scottish Government – relative and absolute. Relative poverty is where someone lives in a household that receives less than 60 per cent of the UK average (median disposable) income in the most recent year. Absolute poverty is where someone lives in a household that receives less than 60 per cent of the UK average (median disposable) income in 2010/11, adjusted by inflation: it is a measure of whether the incomes of lower income households are keeping pace with rising prices.

Statistics outlining poverty in Scotland, produced by the Communities Analysis Division in September 2015 reveal a challenging situation.

  • In 2013/14, 730,000 people (14%) were in relative poverty before housing costs.

  • In 2013/14, 800,000 people (15%) were in absolute poverty before housing costs.

These numbers are significant but mark a decrease on the figures from the previous year. Other figures reveal that:

  • The poverty gap between households with an adult with a disability and those without has not narrowed. After housing costs, 23% of people in families with a disabled adult were in poverty as compared with 16% of people in families without a disabled adult.

  • After housing costs, those from minority ethnic groups have poverty rates double that of white British people - 36% of people from ethnic minority groups were in poverty, compared with 17% of white British people.

Figures related to child poverty were no less challenging.

  • In 2013/14 210,000 children (22%) were living in relative poverty after housing costs, unchanged from the previous year.

  • In 2013/14, after housing costs, 240,000 children (24%) were living in absolute poverty.

  • In 2013/14, 130,000 children (13%) were in low income and material deprivation before housing costs, 20,000 more than the previous year. After housing costs, 140,000 children (14%) were living in low income and material deprivation, up from 12% the previous year.

Linking these statistics to what we know about the direct correlation between poverty, vulnerability and risk, in the previous step John Paul challenged us to play a role in resisting what he referred to as dangerous decision making and further cuts which will impact negatively upon vulnerable children and their families.

In the next step you will be asked for your reactions to these statistics.

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This article is from the free online course:

Caring for Vulnerable Children

University of Strathclyde