Scotland faces rising youth unemployment and growing health inequalities

By Gabriella Jozwiak

| 22 January 2013

The number of unemployed under-25s in Scotland has almost doubled in the past five years, while health inequalities between children continue to grow, research has found.

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Poverty in Scotland means life expectancies among boys vary by up to 14 years. Image: Morguefile

The report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that nearly 90,000 young people are now out of work in the country – the only age group to have suffered from rising unemployment over the past two years.

Research also showed that a boy born in one of the 10 per cent most deprived areas in Scotland can expect to live eight years less than the national average, and 14 years less than their counterparts from the least deprived areas. For girls, the gap narrowed to four years below the national average, and eight less than girls in the least deprived locations.

Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion in Scotland 2013 did find that there was an overall fall in Scotland’s child poverty rate in the decade to 2010/2011, from 31 per cent to 21 per cent after housing costs, meaning poverty is now lower than in England and Wales.

In the same decade, the number of working-age adults with dependent children living in poverty fell, but the number without dependent children rose.

“The findings in today’s report reveal Scotland has a long road to travel if we are to really tackle poverty and inequality,” said Jackie Brock, chief executive of Children in Scotland. 

“While the reduction in child poverty indicates we are heading in the right direction, an increase in low-income working families only demonstrates that more and more families are slipping closer towards the poverty line.”

Brock also warned that changes to welfare and benefits introduced by the UK government would push more families into poverty.

Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, added: “This report presents clear and unambiguous evidence of the poverty levels among working age adults, rising numbers of people working part-time for want of a full-time job, high unemployment among young people and some shocking statistics on the health of a nation.

“Not to act upon these findings, risks condemning this and future generations to a cycle of poor health and no wealth.”

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