SCOTLAND has the lowest levels of poverty in the UK, according to a report that found poverty is now rising everywhere else in the country.

Pensioner poverty in Scotland is the lowest in the UK, Scotland has the lowest proportion of people who aren’t in employment, education or training, and Scots are more likely to get good qualifications, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found.

JRF caused a storm across across UK yesterday when it revealed the first sustained increases in child and pensioner poverty for 20 years.

The findings came just a day after Alan Milburn, the head of the the Social Mobility Commission, resigned, together with three other board members, in protest the at the UK Government's lack of progress towards building a "fairer Britain”.

Almost 400,000 more children and 300,000 more pensioners throughout the UK are living in poverty than four years ago.

However, overall relative poverty has flatlined in Scotland following some early progress made in the early years of devolution at the turn of the century.

The report states: "Across the four countries of the UK, Wales has consistently had the highest poverty, only slightly lower than London and similar to the North East.

"Scotland has generally had the lowest poverty but has seen a rather different pattern to the rest of the UK – poverty rose slightly between 1994/97 and then remained constant to 2013/16. Its current poverty rate is the same as the South West of England."

Pensioner poverty is falling in Scotland and it is now the lowest in the UK. In Wales, which also has a devolved parliament, it has nearly doubled in five years.

The report states: “The poverty rate in the 1990s was highest in Scotland and lowest in Wales, but England, Scotland and Wales saw large falls in the poverty rate at the end of the 1990s and early 2000s.

“However, in the latter part of the 2000s, the picture began to diverge. Scottish pensioners began to experience slightly lower poverty rates than the other nations (at around 12%) and, from 2010/11, Welsh pensioners began to see significant increases in poverty rates.

“In Wales, the pensioner poverty rate stood at 12% in 2010/11; by 2015/16, it had risen to 21%.”

Scotland has the best educational attainment across all age groups.

Around 45% of working-age adults in Scotland have higher education qualifications, compared with 38% in England and 35% in Wales, and 31% in Northern Ireland.

Poor people in England are around 33% less likely to get good qualification, but in Scotland they are around 20% less likely.

Childcare is cheaper in Scotland than in England, although it is more expensive than Wales.

However, life expectancy and mental health are slightly worse in Scotland than elsewhere, with poor Scots more likely to die young and experience anxiety and depression.

The report states: “The difference between the most recent healthy life expectancies in the least and most deprived fifth of areas was highest for men in Scotland, at 18 years, but in all parts of the UK it was more than 12 years for both men and women.”

Despite Scotland’s relatively strong performance compared with the rest of the UK, the Scottish Government acknowledges that poverty is still too high and it established an Equality and Inequality Commission in July.

Douglas Hamilton, the commission chairman, said the JRF findings will inform their advice to Scottish ministers early next year.

He said: “We are less likely to be making comparisons with England and the rest of the UK, and more likely to be focussing on progress against the Scottish Government’s own targets and stated aims.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said the report demonstrates that the actions it has taken to protect people on low incomes are having an impact.

She said: “This includes funding anti-poverty initiatives, providing free school meals, investing in free childcare, promoting the living wage, and investing in welfare mitigation measures such as covering the bedroom tax. We are absolutely committed to eradicating poverty.”