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Poverty and employment

Poverty and Employment 

Work has for a long time been seen as the route out of poverty for many, however in recent years the number of individuals living in in-work poverty has increased significantly. 


This is influenced by a number of factors. However, for employment to offer a sustainable route out of poverty it must offer decent rates of pay, good training and support, opportunities to progress, a flexible working environment and enough hours in work to provide a wage that, as a minimum, meets basic needs.


In 2017, 2,618,100 people (aged 16 years and above) were in employment in Scotland, the highest level on record. The employment rate was also the highest on record at 74.3 per cent. In the same year 111,200 people (aged 16 years and above) were unemployed in Scotland, the lowest level on record. The unemployment rate was also the lowest on record at 4.1 per cent.

Income from employment and earnings is one of the three key drivers of poverty reductions - therefore efforts are being taken to help individuals work and earn more. These include a range of initiatives such as:

  • Fair Start Scotland
  • Parental Employment Support Fund and support for disabled parents [in years to 2022]
  • Work to build a Living Wage Nation
  • Flexible Workforce Development Fund
  • Workplace Equality Fund

The Scottish Government published it's Fair Work Action Plan in 2019, setting out plans to develop Scotland as a leading fair work nation.


Wider factors 

Individuals ability to enter and progress in work are influenced by their personal and local circumstances. It is important to understand what potential barriers to employment individuals may face in order to develop tailored solutions.


These could include:

  • Availability and affordability of childcare;
  • Availability and affordability of transport to and from work;
  • The strength of the local labour market and availability of suitable jobs;
  • Requirements to care for a family member or friend;
  • Managing a health condition or disability;
  • Lack of relevant skills or qualifications, etc.