Page last updated at 11:59 GMT, Monday, 1 December 2008

West highest for 'breadline poor'

Boy playing football in boarded-up street
Glasgow and the west of Scotland scored highest for "breadline poor"

Glasgow and the west of Scotland has had the highest number of "breadline poor" in the UK since at least 1970, according to BBC-commissioned research.

Changing UK - a report by Sheffield University - looked at how nations and regions within Britain have altered over the past four decades.

Glasgow and its surrounding areas were consistently the poorest and least "asset wealthy" in Britain.

They also recorded the biggest fall in population since 1981.

The Changing UK report looked at a variety of indicators for the Glasgow area, which covered West Dunbartonshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, Glasgow City, Inverclyde and North Lanarkshire.

It found that in 1970, the number of "breadline poor" was 31% of the population - the highest in the UK and above the Scottish average of 27%.

Breadline poor is defined as a poverty line so low that people are excluded from participating in "the norms of society".

The Glasgow area also came top in 1980, 1990 and 2000 with 26%, 32% and 38% of the population classed as "breadline poor" respectively.

Whilst real progress has been made in the last 10 years in tackling child poverty that progress has not gone far enough and has recently stalled completely
John Dickie, the head of Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland
This compared to Scottish averages of 22%, 27% and 32% over the same period.

According to the report, the area also had the biggest polarisation between poverty and wealth.

The number of "asset wealthy" in 1980 (earliest figures available) in the Glasgow area was 5% of the population, compared to a Scottish average of 10%.

In 1990 and 2000, Glasgow's figures rose to 6% and 8% respectively, compared to 11% and 15% for Scotland.

According to the report, Glasgow had the lowest number of "asset wealthy" people since 1980 out of 45 UK BBC regions.

John Dickie, the head of Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said the number of people living below the poverty line in Scotland was "a scandal".

"There is nothing inevitable about this injustice, an injustice that damages children's health, education and wellbeing in profound ways," he said.

'Extra investment'

"Whilst real progress has been made in the last 10 years in tackling child poverty that progress has not gone far enough and has recently stalled completely.

"However such progress shows that with government commitment and investment, poverty can be tackled and prevented.

"We now need to see substantial extra investment from Westminster in child benefit and tax credits alongside action from government at all levels to remove the barriers too many parents face trying to get back into work - lack of childcare, discrimination and low pay."

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said the region had moved forward in the time that many of the negative statistics had been compiled.

Today, we have 80,000 more jobs in the city than we had a decade ago, while the number of Glasgow residents in work has gone up by around 40,000 in the same period.
Glasgow City Council spokesman
He said: "Today, we have 80,000 more jobs in the city than we had a decade ago, while the number of Glasgow residents in work has gone up by around 40,000 in the same period.

"In addition, the 2014 Commonwealth Games will provide a whole range of opportunities and benefits for the city, including significant physical regeneration, increasing tourism and job creation, and increasing the amount of private and socially rented accommodation.

"Some of the key priorities we are looking at are getting people back into work and off benefits, improving health and increasing participation in sport and physical activity."

The report also highlighted other areas of change for the Glasgow area.

According to figures from the Office of National Statistics, the population in 2006 was 1,442,000 - down 12% since 1981.

This compared to 5,117,000 for Scotland, which was down 1% since 1981.

The standardised mortality ratio - which is the mortality rate in each area standardised for differences in age and sex - was 100 for the UK.

The ratio for Scotland was 117 but in the Glasgow area, it was 131 - the highest of any Scottish region and the whole of the UK by some distance.

Glasgow's infant mortality rate - the number of infants who die in the first year of their lives as a proportion of all live births - was 5.4, compared to 5.3 for Scotland.

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