The role of employability in tackling poverty

Better employment is the key to tackling poverty in Scotland

Today, one in four children – one-quarter of a million – live in poverty. Hitting the final statutory target of 10 per cent by 2030 would mean a historic reduction in child poverty levels – which will require significant action.

The scale of the prize on offer from boosting employment outcomes is immense. For example, simply ensuring everyone already in work is paid the living wage would lift around 70,000 people out of poverty. Going further and bringing all people out of work into either part-time or full-time work would lift 90,000 and 110,000 people, respectively, out of poverty. And as well as being good for people, increasing positive employment outcomes is also good for the economy – our scenarios would see a combination of higher tax revenue and lower social security payments of up to over £2 billion a year.

However, while work should be a viable route out of poverty, it still traps too many people in low-paid and insecure work, and ultimately in poverty. Employment support requires an equal focus on helping people progress in work.

Given its importance, the Scottish government has made employability central to its child poverty strategy. Through this research, however, we have found a devolved employability system that – while hugely valued by people accessing it – arguably is not yet meeting its ambitions.

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