Child Poverty: Race


As a collective, ethnic minority communities face heightened risks of child poverty.  Broader research presents ethnic minorities as twice as likely to experience poverty than the white population.

This subsequently increases the probability of children from non-white backgrounds experiencing child poverty.  More broadly speaking, experiences of poverty and child poverty differ dependent upon a range of socio-cultural factors, which this section will explore in depth.

However, ethnic minorities, like all individuals possess numerous characteristics. Child poverty is also strongly related to the other work-areas covered by the Poverty Leadership Panel. Subsequently, this section should be viewed in conjunction with:


    Key Facts and Figures: Glasgow

    The 2011 census highlights significant changes to the population of Glasgow: 

    • Glasgow ethnic minorities have increased from 7.2% in 2001, to 15.4% in 2011 (41,900 to 91,600).  This is significantly higher than the Scottish average (3.6% to 7.1%)
    • The other white population has increased the highest, +12,600, to 22,900, including 8,400 Polish people.
    • The Pakistani population has increased by 7,075 to 22,405.
    • The Chinese population has increased by 6,813, to 10,689.
    • The Indian population has increased by 4,500, to 8,640.

    Every ward in Glasgow has experienced an increase in diversity and two thirds of the cities wards are more diverse than Scotland.  

    Source: Scottish Government. 2014. An Overview of Equality Results from the 2011 census Release 2.

    47.7% of the cities ethnic minorities are in employment, significantly less than both the average for ethnic minority communities and Scotland average (56.1%).

    Source: Annual Population Survey. 2013. Local Area Labour Market Statistics in Scotland


    Key Facts and Figures: Scotland

    In 2011/2012, 28% of minority ethnic groups in Scotland lived in poverty before housing costs, compared to 15% of White-British groups.

    In 2011/2012, 24% of people from the Asian/Asian British Group lived in poverty.

    For the combined ‘Mixed’, ‘Black/Black British’, ‘Chinese’ and ‘Other’ group, the figure increased to 32%.

    Ethnic minorities are nearly twice as likely, to live in poverty than the white population.  Such disproportionate levels significantly increase the risk of child poverty for young people from ethnic minority backgrounds. 

    Source: Scottish Government. 2014. Poverty and Inequality in Scotland: 2012/2013.

    Census data suggests ethnic minority communities are under-represented within Scotland’s 15% most deprived data zones (by SIMD).

    Asian Pakistani, Indian and Chinese were all marginally under-represented.  Whilst African and Caribbean or Black people are over-represented.  

    However, the data appears to contradict both the employment levels and percentage of ethnic minorities living in poverty.  This suggests that despite living in more affluent areas, ethnic minorities are still experiencing numerous barriers in overcoming poverty.

    Source: Scottish Government. 2014. Overview of Equality Results from the 2011 Census. Release 2.


    Education and Employment

    Despite heightened levels of poverty, ethnic minority communities appear to out perform the white population within education and positive follow on destinations once leaving school.

    Subsequently, there appears to be a certain amount of discord between educational attainment and labour market positioning for these social groups. The following tables detail school leaver destinations, average tariff scores and employment rates / economic inactivity, by ethnicity:


      White White other Mixed or multiple Asian African Other
    % in higher education 35.9 38.6 46.8 55.4 49.0 40.3
    % in further education 27.5 34.6 27.1 27.5 30.1 31.5
    % in training 5.1 3.0 4.2 1.8 4.0 2.2
    % in employment 21.1 12.8 14.4 8.0 10.4 9.4
    % in positive follow on destination 91.4 91.0 94.4 93.6 95.2 85.6

    SDS. Follow Up Destinations by Ethnicity 2012/2013.

    Source: Skills Development Scotland. 2014. School Leaver Destinations – Initial Follow up 2012/2013 National Statistics.


      Average tariff score
    White Scottish 407
    White Scottish 407
    White non-Scottish 427
    Mixed or multiple ethnicity 446
    Asian — Indian 523
    Asian — Pakistani 570
    Asian — Chinese 643
    Other 460
    Black/African/Caribbean 431

    SG. Tariff Scores by Ethnicity 2012.

    Source: Scottish Government. 2013. Summary Statistics for Attainment, Leaver Destinations and Healthy Living. No.3.


      2013 employment rate 2013 economic inactivity
    Ethnic minority communities 56.1% 30.7%
    Scottish average 71.0% 23.0%

    APS. 2013. Employment Rates and Economic Inactivity 2013.

    Source: Annual Population Survey. 2013. Local Area Labour Market Statistics in Scotland.


    Barriers to Education and Employment

    Analysis of census data suggests 2.7% of Glaswegians do not speak English well, or at all.  This is in comparison to 1.4% in Scotland.

    Research suggests ethnic minority communities achieve below average outcomes in terms of employment and accessing public services.  A range of factors may contribute to this situation:

    • Institutionalised and structural prejudice towards certain minority communities.
    • The impact of “ethnic penalties”, a term which highlights the reduced social outcomes achieved by ethnic minority communities, by virtue of their ethnicity.
    • Lack of knowledge or exposure to available services, contributing to reduced engagement.
    • English language proficiency and reduced provision of English language classes.
    • Cultural norms and trends.


    Employment, Health and Well-being

    A range of research examines the relationship between employment, health, well-being and child poverty.  Considering ethnic minority communities positioning on the fringes of the labor market, it can safely be argued that as a collective, they face heightened risks of child poverty.

    The consequences of this are wide and varied.  However, most worryingly are the underpinning causes, and more specifically, the barriers ethnic minorities face in translating their academic successes into tangible employment outcomes.

    As detailed previously, child poverty is the result of a range of influences.  Yet ethnic minority communities appear to be over-achieving in areas which should alleviate both poverty and child poverty (primarily education).

    In this regard, it has been argued that structural and institutional barriers restrict the broader progression of ethnic minorities within Glasgow, Scotland and the UK.  These issues have been framed as the underpinning factors behind lower income levels and rates of employment.

    However despite the under-representation of ethnic minorities within the labour market, research would suggest that parental employment is no guarantee of escaping child poverty.

    For instance, in Scotland (2012-2013) 59% of children in poverty were living in a family where at least one adult was in employment.

    Furthermore, 45% of all people in poverty in the same year experienced in-work poverty.

    Source: Scottish Government. 2014. Poverty and Income Inequality in Scotland: 2012-2013.


    Economic Immigrants, Asylum Seekers and Refugees

    Mention must also be given to levels of child poverty in relation to economic immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers.  Regularly portrayed as “playing the system”, ”benefit tourists” or “scroungers”, there appears to be significant disparity between the actual lived experiences of these groups, and their portrayal throughout mainstream society.

    In reality, refugees and asylum seekers, due to the lack of economic rights, are more likely to live in a state of destitution. Research continually highlights their positioning on the fringes of society, with little social, cultural or economic support.

    For more information, please visit the Scottish Refugee Council.

    To provide further context, the following section details the level of support these groups receive from the government.

    Asylum Seekers


    • Not allowed to work, unless they have been waiting for more than 12 months for a decision.  In this case, they may be granted special disposition to work.


    • May be housed in a flat, house, hostel, bed or breakfast or purpose built facility.  They will not be housed in London.

    Cash Support (section 95 support)

    • Married Couple: £72.52 between two, per week.
    • Lone parent aged 18 or over: £43.94 per week.
    • Single person aged 18 or over: £36.62 per week.
    • Single person aged 16-18: £39.80 per week.
    • Aged under 16: £52.96 per week.
    • Pregnant mothers receive £3 extra per week
    • Parent(s) baby under one year old receive an extra £5 per week
    • Parent (s) with a child aged 1-3 receive an extra £3 per week

    Maternity Payment

    • If an asylum seeker's baby is due in 8 weeks or less, or if the baby is less than 6 weeks old, parents may qualify for a one off payment of £300

    If the request for asylum is rejected, asylum seekers may apply for section 4 support.  This is usually applied for whilst appealing a decision, or awaiting deportation.  This is not guaranteed, but if successful, people may be eligible for:

    • Short term housing
    • Help with prescriptions
    • A £35.39 Azure Card, to help pay for food and toiletries at selected outlets.
    • No cash will be provided at this point

    In quarter two of 2013 (most recent figures):

    • 21,423 asylum seekers received section 95 (cash) support in the UK.
    • 2,337 received section 95 support in Scotland.
    • 3,195 received section 4 (non-cash support).

    Non-EEA Nationals

    Benefit support for Non-EEA nationals is dependent upon immigration status (detailed in bold):

    • Indefinite leave to remain: receive the same support as UK nationals
    • Limited leave to remain: “no recourse to public funds” (i.e. no entitlement)
    • Person subject to immigration control: not enlisted to most social security benefits (e.g. JSA, ESA, Maternity Pay etc)

    If a Non-EEA national is eligible to claim benefits, they may still be restricted in the benefits they can claim, within a certain period of arrival in the UK.  For this purpose, they must sit the habitual residence test.  This applies to returning UK nationals and first time arrivals. Benefits such as disability living allowance, income based JSA, income support; universal credit and council tax reduction are included within this.

    EEA Nationals

    EEA nationals arriving in the UK do not have unrestricted access to benefits.  To receive welfare support, they must demonstrate they have the right to reside. Broadly speaking, this is when they are economically active within the UK, or are able to financially support themselves.

    After living within the UK for three months, EEA nationals have an automatic right to live in the UK. But, they must demonstrate they have been working within the last three months to gain the right to claim benefits.

    EEA nationals may register as jobseekers and claim benefits, but this can only be done after an initial 3 month period of residence within the UK.  However, EEA nationals must show they are actively looking for work and have a realistic chance of obtaining employment to claim this benefit.

    EAA nationals can only claim this benefit for 6 months, unless compelling evidence is provided to show they have a chance of getting work.

    The welfare system for EEA nationals is extremely complex, for further details please check with Citizens Advice.

    Source: House of Commons Library. 2014. People from abroad: what benefits can they claim?