PEOPLE are more likely to progress out of poverty in Scotland or Northern Ireland than in the rest of the UK, according to a new report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The study found that poverty levels in the UK reduced slightly since last year but remain higher than in 2014-15. However, for people with the same circumstances in life – such as qualifications and wages – a route out of deprivation was more likely in Scotland or Northern Ireland than in other parts of the UK.

The report attributes lower poverty rates in Scotland – compared to England and Wales – to lower rents in the social housing sector as well as Scotland having a higher proportion of social rented properties.

The report found people were least likely to find a route out of poverty if they lived in London or north-east England.

The SNP say the report shows that action taken by the Scottish Government, such as building 87,000 affordable homes since 2007 and introducing child poverty legislation, is helping to tackle poverty amid UK-wide Tory austerity.

READ MORE: FACT CHECK: Has Holyrood failed to use its powers to combat inequality?

Shadow work and pensions secretary Neil Gray believes the figures demonstrate what Scotland could do to combat inequality were it to gain sovereignty.

The MP said: “This report shows that while only 15% of social security is devolved, the SNP Scottish Government is using its limited powers to make a real difference to Scottish communities in the face of harmful Tory austerity cuts – including making building affordable housing and tackling poverty key priorities.”

He pointed to Holyrood policies which have sought to soften the blow of Westminster cuts. In 2018-19, the Scottish Government invested more than £1.4 billion in support targeted on low-income households.

This included £100 million to mitigate the worst impacts of UK Government welfare cuts and introducing the Scottish Child Payment, which will see £10 a week per child go to low-income families by the end of 2022 and reach families with a child under six by the end of 2020.

Gray added: “While the Scottish Government has set ambitious targets to eradicate child poverty, the Resolution Foundation has warned that under this Tory Government child poverty risks reaching a 60-year high of 34%. We could do so much more to tackle poverty and inequality if Scotland had the full powers of independence.”