Muslim Council of Britain responds to latest Joseph Rowntree Foundation report revealing deepening poverty in Scotland
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) on 19 April responded to the latest Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) report, ‘Deepening poverty in Scotland – No one left behind’, which has revealed a striking increase in the proportion of people living in very deep poverty in Scotland.
The report has revealed that 1 in 12 people in Scotland are living in very deep poverty. It also highlights the disproportionate levels of deep or very deep poverty within ethnic minority communities in Scotland. More than ‘one-third of all people from a minority ethnic background are trapped in deep or very deep poverty,’ which in turn means that ‘1 in 10 people in deep and very deep poverty in Scotland were from a minority ethnic background – three times the rate seen for all people in Scotland.’ This makes for deeply distressing reading and cannot be left unaddressed by both the Scottish and UK governments.
Per exclusive analysis provided by Joseph Rowntree Foundation, over a third of Muslims (36%) report their ethnicity as Pakistani, and 15% report their ethnicity as Bangladeshi. The latest poverty statistics for Scotland indicate striking levels of poverty within Scottish Muslim communities, where 63% of Muslims in Scotland are estimated to be living in poverty, a rate of poverty that is three times the average of 21% across Scotland.
More broadly, Muslim communities in England and Wales also remain disproportionately impacted by systemic, inter-generational poverty and inequality. The Muslim Council of Britain’s (MCB) own first-look analysis of census 2021 data, in addition to its landmark British Muslim in Numbers report (2011), reaffirms this.
JRF Associate Director for Scotland Chris Birt said, “That Muslims in Scotland face a rate of poverty three times higher than the average is truly shocking, coupled with the fact that people from a minority ethnic background are around 3 times more likely to be in very deep poverty – it demands Government action.
“Muslims in Scotland do much to alleviate the hardship that many in their communities face but neither the Scottish nor UK Governments are keeping up their end of the bargain. That’s why it’s so crucial that the UK Government adopt our Essentials Guarantee to ensure that universal credit is enough for everyone to afford the basics we all need. It’s welcome that the new First Minister of Scotland has put equality and reducing poverty at the heart of his government.
“That will require working closely with communities across Scotland to understand and meet their needs and help deliver a more just and compassionate society.”
Commenting on the report’s findings, Zara Mohammed, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain said, “Experiencing poverty has a devastating impact on people’s lives, including their health, education and career prospects and overall well-being. As Muslims, we believe that it is our duty to alleviate the suffering of those who are less fortunate. We commend the Joseph Rowntree Foundation for their important work in bringing the rise of deep poverty in Scotland into focus and further highlighting the disproportionate levels of deep poverty faced by ethnic minority and Muslim communities.
“We join the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in calling upon the Scottish government to re-commit to and accelerate its efforts to create a Minimum Income Guarantee and the UK government to adopt the Essentials Guarantee the JRF are proposing with The Trussell Trust and ensure Universal Credit payments are enough to cover essential needs amidst a cost-of-living crisis.”