Glasgow remains the Scottish city with the highest concentration of people living in deprived circumstances. Now, reeling from the shockwaves of a global pandemic and in the grip of a cost of living crisis, more people than ever are struggling to afford a basic standard of living.
As fuel poverty forces households to choose between heating or eating and austerity policies push people further below the poverty line, many of the people who call Glasgow home are struggling with heart-breaking decisions and declining mental and physical health.
The Scale of Poverty in Glasgow
There are many indicators to suggest that poverty in Glasgow has deepened in the last two years. A recent report found that there the city now has 2500 more children living in poverty since the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2023, there are 27,995 children living in relative poverty in our city; this represents more than a quarter of Glasgow’s children.
On average, families in relative poverty are now £115 per week below the poverty line compared to £107 per week pre-pandemic. In-work poverty in Glasgow is on the rise, with 61% of working age adults in poverty living in a household where at least one person works.
As people struggle to afford the most basic necessities, homeless applications in Glasgow have increased to the highest level in almost a decade. The latest figures show almost 7000 applications to the city council in 2021/22, up by 578 from the year before. There were 2591 children associated with homeless applications.
As is the case across the whole of the UK, deprivation and poverty in Glasgow are disproportionately experienced by certain groups such as minority ethnic groups, lone parents, children and disabled people.
Affording Basic Necessities
The economic impact and aftermath of a global pandemic coupled with a crippling cost of living crisis is making it more difficult for people in Glasgow to afford to meet their most basic needs such as housing, food, heat and transport.
There’s significant evidence to suggest that food insecurity, which was already high in Glasgow compared to neighbouring local authorities, has risen sharply since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The stark reality is that food bank usage in Glasgow has more than tripled in the last 6 years. And, as prices at the checkouts continue to rise, families are struggling to afford to put food on the table. In fact, The Social Market Foundation estimates that over 14,000 children in Glasgow City face ‘very low food security’ on a daily basis.
Due to sky-rocketing fuel prices in recent months, 45% of families in Glasgow have reported regular issues paying for heating. This struggle to afford fuel is forcing some households to make devastating decisions between eating and staying warm in the cold winter months.
Poverty and Health
It’s no secret that public health in Glasgow is a cause for concern. For years, research has shown – and the media has extensively reported – how premature mortality in Glasgow is significantly higher than other UK cities with comparable socioeconomic status.
One recent report has found that poverty is, by far, the greatest barrier to health and wellbeing for young people. It found that young people in poverty were more likely to be at a higher risk of obesity and have higher levels of stress and depression as well as experiencing social isolation, shame and stigma.
In Glasgow, the rate of prescriptions and psychiatric hospitalisations associated with mental ill health is higher than the national rate. Studies suggest that adults living in Scotland’s most deprived areas are twice as likely to experience anxiety or depression; are three times more likely to die from suicide, and are 18 times more likely to have a drug-related death.
The grim reality of health inequality in Glasgow is laid bare by the city’s life expectancy data. In Glasgow, both male and female life expectancy have reduced in the most deprived areas of the city. As a result, in Glasgow, the gap in life expectancy at birth between the least and most deprived deciles has widened to a 15-year gap for males and a 13-year gap for females.
The scale of poverty we’re seeing in Glasgow in 2023 is something we’d expect would have been left in the past. As low incomes and mental health are being stretched to breaking point, individuals, families and children in Glasgow are suffering.
Yet, poverty isn’t inevitable. There are many fantastic organisations in Glasgow fighting for people’s rights to a basic standard of living and providing help to those who need it most.
Here at Glasgow Care Foundation, We provide practical assistance to our city’s poorest individuals and families who have exhausted all available sources. We provide essential household goods, supermarket vouchers and support community projects. Learn more about our work and how you can help here.