A poll conducted in Scotland before the Cost of Living Crisis reared its head revealed that nearly half of all families were struggling to pay household bills.
The poll conducted in 2021 by Ipsos Scotland, with questions commissioned by Parenting in Scotland (PAS) shows that a substantial proportion of parents in Scotland have been facing financial difficulties.
Almost half of parents in Scotland (46%) found it more difficult to afford their bills and almost half of parents in Scotland (47%) were less able to make new savings last year than in the previous year. While parents across all demographic groups have faced financial challenges, certain groups of parents have been more vulnerable to financial difficulties:
- a greater proportion of single parents had experienced these new financial challenges as compared to couples with dependent children
- households on lower incomes
- those living in the most deprived areas as defined by SIMD
- those currently not working
These groups of parents were much more likely to have experienced the challenges of reductions in benefits and falling into debt.
Of the financial challenges presented, the one experienced by the most parents was reductions in the amount of money you are able to put aside or save for the future.
The income coming into families has reduced considerably with the people earning the least most likely to be affected by irregular hours. One in six of the parents surveyed had been detrimentally affected by the reduction in benefits received.
Overall, the groups most likely to experience a reduction in benefits received were:
- households with incomes of less than £18,999 a year (60%) compared to those households with incomes over this amount
- lone parents (52%) compared to couples with children (22%)
- those not currently working (43%), compared to those working part-time (25%) or full-time (8%)
- those living in SIMDs 1 and 2, the most deprived quintiles, (61%) compared to those living in the three more affluent quintiles (23%).
- women (22%) were significantly more likely to have experienced a reduction in benefits compared to men (7%)
Inequality is built into a system which should be supporting those most in need. The increase in National Insurance contributions will also affect lower earners disproportionately.
The Scottish Government has a variety of measures and payments in place to mitigate the effects of policies implemented by the UK Government, for example:
Childcare provision was extended in Scotland to support working parents. The latest figures show that 111,574 children were in funded ELC places at the end of January 2022 – an increase of 20,684 (23%), since August 2021. Of these, 88% (97,887 children) were taking advantage of the full offer of 1,140 hours of funded ELC a year. The total saving to families from the 1,140 hours offer is estimated to be £4,900 per child per annum. Every council had reported an increase between 6% and 26% in numbers of two to five-year-olds accessing funded ELC compared with August 2021
But the main powers still rest in London at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Whilst policies are pursued which plunge ever more working people into debt and poverty the inequalities in our society will continue to widen.