MORE children, older people and working age Scots are living in “persistent poverty”, new figures confirm.

The findings relate to the period before the coronavirus crisis disrupted work and services.

Statistics show 17 in every 100 young Scots has been living in poverty for several years, with that potentially harming their long-term health and attainment.

That figure has risen by 2%, and broader data reveals how one in four children – and one in five Scots amongst all age groups – lives in “relative poverty” after housing costs, meaning the inequality gap is growing.

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For pensioners, the level in persistent poverty is 12%, with the working age level at 11%.

Data from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) puts the overall number of people living in a relative low-income household after housing costs across the entire UK at 14.5 million in 2018-19, up half a million in 12 months.

It is the highest number of people living in poverty in the UK since figures were collated in 2002 and reflects an increasing number of children – 4.2m – in low-income households.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey (below) said the UK Government is “wholly committed to supporting the lowest paid families and has already taken significant steps, including raising the living wage, ending the benefit freeze, and increasing work incentives”.

The National:

She went on: “All my efforts are currently focused on providing support to those affected by Covid-19, but we will not lose sight of our commitment to address and tackle the root causes to unleash potential.”

But John Dickie (above), director of Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, commented: “Not only is child poverty rising across the UK but poor families are also deeper in poverty than they were just seven years ago. That should sound alarm bells for the new UK Government’s commitment to ‘levelling up’ because it means families in poverty are further away from escaping it.

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"Many of these families are living well below the poverty line. Their children are going without the basics of a good childhood with all the lost opportunities that brings for them and for our wider economy.

“The new UK Government has committed to reducing child poverty. It must now bring forward clear policies for achieving this, starting with a restoration in the value of the key benefits families in and out of work rely on.

“Here in Scotland these figures show how important the new Scottish Child Payment will be, and how crucial it is to ensure take up of this vital lifeline is maximised.”

READ MORE: Calls for focus on Scots children as research shows a quarter live in poverty

And the director of the Poverty Alliance, Peter Kelly, said the Covid-19 crisis has “exposed the failings in our system of social protection and in our labour market”, stating: “People have been shocked to learn the paltry sums available as social security payments and statutory sick pay, and the lack of protections available to workers on zero-hour contracts.

“In time this crisis will pass and we will return to normality. But that normality cannot include one in four children growing up in poverty.”