Scottish Women's Budget Group and The Poverty Alliance

November 2022

This report shares the experiences of women in Scotland on low incomes affected by the cost-of-living crisis. Women were disproportionately impacted by the cost-of-living crisis due to existing inequalities across all areas of life. They were more likely to be living in poverty, have lower levels of savings and wealth, and less able to increase paid work than men due to caring responsibilities.

Findings show:

  • Women on low incomes experienced deepening poverty and hardship, including hunger and being cold.
  • Alongside this, some women were struggling to repay existing debts or at risk of accumulating more debt as a result of rising costs, sometimes using cost-of-living payments to repay debt.
  • Specific groups of women were particularly struggling: women who were claiming asylum; lone parents; women with caring responsibilities; women in low-paid employment.
  • Older women had specific experiences of difficulties with concerns about pension adequacy, and making hard choices about returning to work, sometimes amid ill health.

Fifteen recommendations, covering immediate and longer-term goals, to address the amounting hardship that women on low incomes were experiencing are made. These include:

  • For the Scottish government to expand eligibility to sources of emergency support for women experiencing in-work poverty;
  • For the UK government to uplift social security in line with inflation;
  • For both the UK and Scottish government to increase the level of financial support for asylum seekers and people with no recourse to public funds, and further financial support required for people with refugee status
  • Ensuring adequate incomes for all through a “caring social security system”;
  • Investing in preventative public services, and in support and advice services to help people manage debt;
  • Improving community amenities and services, ensuring that support provided is free from stigma.

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