Stresses On Low Earners Revealed

24 April 2017, 11:06 | Updated: 24 April 2017, 11:22


One in three Scots on a low income often skips meals as they struggle to scrape by, according to a new survey.

More than a third (37%) of those earning less than £14,000 a year have fallen behind with household bills in the last year, while 34% were regularly missing meals, research for The Poverty Alliance showed.

More than a quarter (28%) have topped up their income with a credit card or loan, and more than one in five (22%) have fallen behind with their rent or mortgage payments.

For almost half (46%) of those on a low income, financial stress is negatively affecting their work life.

Peter Kelly, director of The Poverty Alliance - which promotes the real Living Wage in Scotland - said: "Our research paints a worrying picture of low earners scraping by, struggling to pay basic bills, skipping meals and feeling a lot of stress. In 2017, in a country like Scotland, that should not be the case.

"We know from other surveys that increasing pay levels from the national minimum wage to a real Living Wage - a pay rise of up to £2,000 a year for full-time workers - brings huge benefits to employees and employers, in terms of increased retention and better staff morale.

"The real Living Wage of £8.45 an hour has the backing of three in four Scots in the survey, and it has cross-party support in Scotland.

"Our survey also found that more than a third of people felt a real Living Wage could tackle child poverty, and the vast majority felt it made for happier, more productive employees.''

Three quarters of respondents said more employers paying a real Living Wage of £8.45 an hour would raise Scots' living standards, while eight out of 10 said being paid a real Living Wage would make them feel more valued at work.

The survey of 1,024 adults by Survation included people of all income brackets ranging in age from 18 to 64.

Asked how they would spend the extra money if their employer started to pay them the real Living Wage, 44% of low earners, those on less than £14,000, said they would save it.

Four out of 10 would use it to pay off debts while 24% said they would take part in more social activities.

Mr Kelly said more needs to be done to raise awareness of the Living Wage.

He added: "Since we started the Living Wage accreditation programme in Scotland three years ago, we have signed up more than 780 employers. In Scotland, we've had the fastest take-up of any region in the U.K. It's a voluntary programme and a simple process which we would urge employers of all size to consider.

"There is a long way to go to address in-work poverty for the estimated 467,000 low-paid people in our country.

"As this research shows, putting just a little bit more in people's pockets could have positive impacts both socially and economically.''