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Low pay warning on battle against poverty

One in seven working-age adults and children could still be living below the poverty line by the mid-2020s, according to new research.

The study, for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), looks at the challenge that Scotland would face to tackle poverty, even with a much higher employment rate than it currently has.

The findings are set out in the third and final referendum briefing written by the New Policy Institute (NPI) and published by JRF.

Scotland's employment rate currently stands at 73.5% and, on rates of growth achieved in the 10 years to 2007, it could reach 80% by 2025, the research found. At current population levels, this would mean an extra 300,000 jobs in the economy.

Researchers looked at the impact of this increase in jobs, taking account of what would happen to poverty levels, depending on whether the extra jobs were full or part-time.

They found that if the 80% employment rate was reached by the creation of only part-time jobs, poverty among working age adults and children could fall from 800,000 (19.4%) to 670,000 (16.2%).

If most of those extra jobs were full-time, the number in poverty would fall further, to 600,000 (14.6%).

Researchers said that if Scotland does achieve higher employment rates, it must address challenges arising from people's time pressures, access to services and rights at work.

Jim McCormick, Scotland adviser to JRF, said: "These scenarios highlight the challenges that Scotland must meet if poverty rates are to decrease. Much higher employment would cut poverty, but jobs alone will not eliminate it while low pay and inadequate working hours remain so widespread."

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Careers and Jobs

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