Lone parent families at the sharp end of wealth inequality in Scotland
New research on wealth inequality published this week by the Scottish Government shows that single parents and their children are consistently the worst-off in Scotland.
The data looks at overall wealth, which includes financial assets, household goods, property and private pensions and compares households made up of single pensioners, pensioner couples, single working-age adults and working-age couples with and without children.
The median wealth of a lone parent household is the lowest of all household types and amounts to only 13.8% that of a working-age two-parent household. Meanwhile, 9.1% of single parent households are in unmanageable debt, the highest of all household types, compared with 3.1% of working-age couples with children.
Personal wealth is one of the key parts of a family’s standard of living. Wealth can be used as a source of finance to improve current or future living standards and to provide financial stability, reducing vulnerability to shocks such as job loss or illness.
The statistics also show that a staggering 73% of single parent households are financially vulnerable, the highest of any household type. ‘Financially vulnerable’ means there are not enough savings to cover basic living costs (using the average rent, food and fuel costs) for three months.
The report shows Scotland faces stark inequalities, with wealth being even more unequally distributed than income. The wealthiest 2% of all households in Scotland hold 15% of all wealth, while the bottom 20% of households hold only 1% of all wealth.
Marion Davis, Head of Policy at One Parent Families Scotland said:
“This startling gap in extreme wealth and income is intensifying inequality and hindering Scotland’s ability to tackle child poverty. Inequality is a problem for us all.
“While austerity and social security cuts continue to hit poor children hardest, wealth is concentrated in the hands of a minority, increasing income inequality.
“Starting with the next UK Budget, the government should re-balance the books by raising revenues from those who can afford it – by tackling those who avoid paying their fair share of tax and by starting to explore progressive taxation – rather than relying on cuts to services and social security benefits that have a disproportionate impact on the poorest children in society.”