The UK suffers highest poverty levels in North West Europe

New analysis reveals the UK has the highest levels of poverty of any neighbouring country, according to OECD data.

The latest figures come from 2018, before the disastrous impacts of Tory Brexit and the Covid pandemic, which are likely to have only worsened the UK’s position at the bottom of the league.

Here’s all you need to know.

The UK is in a worse position than all 13 neighbouring countries

The analysis from the House of Commons Library has revealed that the UK has the highest poverty rate of every country in north west Europe, with 11.7% of people living below the poverty line under the OECD definition.

That’s significantly higher than in countries such as Iceland (4.9%), Denmark (6.1%) or Belgium (8.2%).

Westminster rule means a triple whammy of highest poverty, highest inequality and lowest pensions

Recent findings revealed the UK has the lowest state pension out of all neighbouring countries, while also having the highest levels of inequality anywhere in North West Europe.

In both cases, the situation has worsened under a decade of Tory rule at Westminster, defined by damaging policies such as austerity, welfare cuts and Brexit – all imposed on Scotland against our democratic will.

Independent countries similar in size to Scotland perform significantly better

The figures show that the UK has a significantly higher poverty rate than the average for independent countries of Scotland’s size or smaller – which stands at 7.7%, compared to the UK’s 11.7%.

While countries like Denmark or Ireland invest in their people and build fairer societies, the UK holds back Scotland’s potential.

What’s more, the problem goes beyond the Tories’ time in power – it points to a wider, long-term history of Westminster mismanagement.

Since records began 2002, the UK has had the lowest or second-lowest poverty rate in every single year.

Child poverty has risen under Tory governments

According to the UK government’s own last published statistics, at least 600,000 children have been pushed into poverty under the Tories’ time in office. This is estimated to rise to a million by 2022.

It means 23% of children in the UK are living in poverty before housing costs are taken into account, and 31% after housing costs.

This is down to a decade of brutal Tory austerity, which Scotland never voted for…

The UN special rapporteur on poverty, Philip Alston, said that a decade of Tory austerity has resulted in “tragic social consequences” – and the statistics clearly bear it out.

Analysis from CPAG shows that removing the callous Tory two-child limit and the benefit cap would lift 100,000s of children out of poverty – but Boris Johnson’s government has repeatedly refused calls to do that, instead focusing on handing out tax cuts and lucrative contracts for his rich cronies.

…and the UK poverty crisis is only set to grow as Tories plan to slash Universal Credit

Rishi Sunak’s plans to slash Universal Credit payments by £1040 a year for six million families, all while imposing a public sector pay freeze, will inevitably make this crisis even worse – pushing more people into hardship and poverty.

The Tory moves to cut Universal Credit from September have been described as “catastrophic” by the Children’s Commissioner for Scotland, who also warned the cuts would “effectively knock out the benefits that the Scottish Child Payment brings”.

Scotland’s recovery is at risk with Westminster – it’s time to take it into Scotland’s hands

While the SNP government has taken bold steps to eradicate poverty in Scotland – despite the limited powers and budgets under devolution – Westminster is dragging Scotland backwards again with more Tory cuts.

Policies like the Scottish Child Payment, labelled as “game-changing” by charities, will be effectively cancelled out by the impact of Tory decisions that we never voted for.

This lays bare the fact how vulnerable Scotland is under Westminster control – and underlines why only with independence we can protect ourselves from Tory cuts and build a fairer future.

Scotland can thrive and build a fairer society with independence

It’s clear that independent countries around Europe – especially those of similar size to Scotland or smaller – are performing much better than the UK, whether it’s on poverty, inequality, pensions or much more.

If countries like Ireland, Denmark, Norway or Belgium can – so can Scotland. There’s a whole body of evidence to support that Scotland has what it takes to thrive.

With independence, we will always get the governments we vote for and will have all the powers and economic levers to build a fairer, more equal, more progressive society.

Scotland must have the choice. Sign the independence pledge to show your support.