This paper represents an introductory overview of the changing nature of poverty and work, the rise of in-work poverty and the evidence-based implications for population health and wellbeing of these changes within Scotland. Key literature and analyses of important trends in these related areas are presented. In so doing, fundamental and well-established evidence and concepts in this field are covered as well as very recent literature, data and commentary.
The nature of poverty, work and social protection in Scotland is going through a period of rapid and significant change. The impact of these changes on the health and wellbeing of the nation is not fully known. A time for reflection is urgently needed to consider these matters and their consequences for the careers and futures of Scottish residents.
The composition of poverty in Scotland has also fundamentally changed, especially over the last two decades. While total levels of poverty have been reducing over this period, the proportion of families living in poverty where at least one family member works has actually increased. These families are described as experiencing ‘in-work poverty’ and represent an important subgroup of Scottish society for three pressing reasons. First, although in-work poverty is not a new occurrence it has received scarce research and policy focus. Second, the UK welfare system is going through a period of significant retrenchment. Many of the new welfare reforms will see significantly reduced levels of support for working age populations, including those experiencing in-work poverty. Third, very little consideration has been given to improving our understanding of the specific pathways between in-work poverty and health and wellbeing