Kirk says Scotland is failing its young people

Rev Sally Foster-Fulton says: “Much more must and can be done. As a society we are failing too many young people. We are letting down too many people on low pay. "

The Church of Scotland is concerned a new report on poverty and social inclusion in Scotland shows a worrying level of neglect for the country's young people.

Young adults under 30 are now the largest group experiencing poverty in Scotland, according to new research by the New Policy Institute (NPI) highlighted in the report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

They are also the age-group at highest risk (25%) of poverty and are the only age group to have seen an increase in poverty levels since 2003.

Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, Church and Society Council Convener, said: "Much more must and can be done.

"As a society we are failing too many young people. We are letting down too many people on low pay. And the Church, along with many others, is calling for a radical overhaul of the current sanctions system which is victimising some of the most vulnerable in our society as well as failing to effectively get people into paid work.

"Through our association with the Poverty Truth Commission we are clear that the biggest single change that needs to happen is the direct involvement of people experiencing poverty in the efforts to eradicate it. The involvement of people who know about poverty from direct experience in the production of this report is therefore to be particularly welcomed."

Published today, Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion in Scotland 2015, finds rises in the number of young people in poverty and persistently high levels of disadvantage in health, education and work.

Around one in every eight under-25s is unemployed, twice as high as any other age group. But 43 per cent of people in poverty are living in working households, showing that work by itself is not an adequate route out of poverty.

The last ten years has also seen a shift in housing costs and tenure. The average private renter now spends almost a quarter of their income on housing, compared to 18 per cent of social renters' income and 11 per cent for owner-occupiers with a mortgage. Over the same period the proportion of homes in the private rented sector has almost doubled to 15 per cent.

The research shows:

*Young adults under 30 are now at a higher risk than any other age group of experiencing poverty in Scotland – the only age group to have seen an increase over the last ten years.
*Child and pensioner poverty rates have fallen from 33 per cent for both groups in 1996/97 to 22 per cent and 11 per cent respectively in 2012/13.
*920,000 people in Scotland lived in poverty in 2012/13, 230,000 less than ten years before.
*The number of people living in poverty in the Private Rented Sector has risen sharply, whilst falling in the social sector and among owner-occupiers. 29 per cent of people who are in poverty live in the private rented sector, up from 11 per cent 10 years ago.
*Life expectancy in Scotland is still lower than in England: men in the poorest parts of Scotland live 3.9 years less than in the poorest parts of England. Only two Scottish local authority areas have a higher life expectancy than the average in England,
*The attainment gap, based on results at S4, between pupils who live in deprived and wealthier areas remains wide. The gap has narrowed slightly, but at the current rate of progress, it would take 28 years for pupils in the bottom quintile to reach today's level of attainment of those in the top.
*Better qualified people are increasingly finding themselves in low-paid work. In 2013, 13 per cent of low-paid workers had a degree, compared to 5 per cent in 2003, while the proportion of the workforce with no qualifications had fallen from 23 per cent to 9 per cent.
*People who work part-time, are low paid, or lower qualified are less likely to get in-work training. Female employees who have Highers or higher qualifications are twice as likely to get in-work training as those who don't.
*At its peak in 2013 almost one in six JSA claimants were being referred for a sanction each month. This is double the highest rate in the years before 2006.