Page last updated at 12:43 GMT, Thursday, 7 May 2009 13:43 UK

More pensioners living in poverty

Man sitting by fire
Elderly people represented almost a quarter of Scotland's poor in 2007/08

The number of pensioners living in poverty in Scotland has increased by 20,000, according to new figures.

The Scottish Government statistics suggested that the proportion of OAPs in relative poverty had risen from 20% to 21% in the year 2007/08.

The proportion of children in the same category had fallen by 1% from the previous year's level to 20%.

The figures suggested 860,000 people, or 17% of the Scottish population, were living in relative poverty.

Of that total, 200,000 were children, 200,000 were pensioners and the remaining 460,000 were people of working age.

The report judges an individual to be living in poverty if their household's income is 60% below the UK average.

'Extremely concerned'

Relative poverty measures whether people in low income households are keeping up with the movement of the economy as a whole.

The figures suggested that poverty in Scotland had decreased since devolution.

They also said that 560,000 people, or 11% of the population, were living in absolute poverty last year - down from 980,000 (20% of the population) in 1998/99.

Douglas McLellan, of Age Concern and Help the Aged in Scotland, said the charity was "extremely concerned" by the figures.

It is outrageous that so many children are missing out on the basic necessities most children take for granted
Douglas Hamilton
Save the Children

"This rise, compared to the fall in child poverty, demonstrates the need for the Scottish Government to wake up to the specific financial hardships of older people, particularly at this time of economic recession and its impact on pensioner savings.

"The Scottish Government needs to address the serious anomalies in its targeted government policy actions that are not wholly inclusive of older people."

Douglas Hamilton, head of Save the Children in Scotland, said: "The Government has broken its promise to the 200,000 children who live in poverty in Scotland.

"It is outrageous that so many children are missing out on the basic necessities most children take for granted.

"Today's figures show that very little progress is being made and that the UK Government will fall well short of its 2010 target to halve the numbers of children living in poverty."

Children beside railings
The UK Government set a target of halving child poverty by 2010

He added: "In 2001 Gordon Brown referred to child poverty as a 'scar on Britain's soul'. This scar is taking a very long time to heal."

Mr Hamilton said there had been little improvement in child poverty rates in the last four years.

"The main reason is a lack of investment in child benefits and tax credits for low income families with children," he said.

"Over the last couple of years we have called for an additional £3bn investment in the Budget if the government was to have any chance of meeting 2010 target. And it has failed to do that."

He added that the contribution of the Scottish Government would be even more significant in trying to achieve the UK Government's target of eradicating child poverty completely by 2020.

Growing economy

Housing Minister Alex Neil said the Scottish Government was "resolute" in its determination to make Scotland "fairer and wealthier".

"As a modern nation, poverty and inequality shames Scotland," he said.

"Within our limited devolved powers, we are doing all we can to ensure more of our population are able to share in the benefits of a growing economy."

The report also said the proportion of the nation's total income received by the bottom 30% of earners had fallen from 14% to 13%.

Mr Neil said the Scottish Government was "committed to increasing the proportion of income earned by the bottom 30% of Scotland's population by 2017".

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