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In the pink? in the red? or in between?
Single parents and families living in deprived areas are feeling the pinch, suffering financially related stress and cutting back on food, heating and children's clothes, according to a new study from PAS which puts family finances across Scotland under the microscope.
In the pink? In the red? Or in between? presents the results of a poll of 1,000 parents conducted by Ipsos MORI for PAS. It found that Scotland is split between those families which are managing, those just getting by and those already struggling. Most parents in the sample said they were no worse off than they had been the year previously. But while some parents are not adversely affected, some are doing very well indeed and others are struggling. Those who are most badly affected tend to fall into certain categories. They live in the most deprived areas; they are likely to be single parents (most of whom are women); their family is likely to be affected by disability; and they are likely to be in part-time work; irregular work; or unemployed.
Presented at the Scottish Parliament in December 2015 at an event sponsored by Mark MacDonald MSP, the report highlights the widening inequality within the Scottish population and the disparity in parents' circumstances which affects children's lives and outcomes.
Speaking at the event, Aileen Campbell, Minister for Children and Young People, thanked PAS for its work on the report, which she said made 'some grim reading'. She hoped that actions of the Scottish Government would help but was concerned that although its strategies and policies are right, its good intentions are not necessarily reaching everyone they need to. She said that she wanted to make sure that the Scottish Government, PAS partners and others are working together to mitigate the issues because this 'is the only way to overcome and deal with austerity and make good our ambition to make Scotland the best place to bring up children.'
By the end of the event, it wasn't so much about pink or red or grey; rather about orange and white and the real meaning of lack of insight and awareness, of stigma and prejudice. Lesley McFadyen, a parent from Glasgow described how she was bringing up her children - the next generation of taxpayers - on her own. She is in work, but no better off than when she was on benefits. She said, 'I don't think I am poor. I make decisions based on the money I have. But when I think about it, I have had to choose between food and fuel. I had to borrow money off my seven-year-old to feed the meter just last week. I'll never hear the end of it….My fourteen-year-old doesn't tell me about school trips; just crumples up the notes and throws them away. I don't think I am poor but I suppose, when I think about it, I couldn't afford the 'wee snack' the school asked my child to bring for the tombola the other day. A teacher left recently and all the children were asked to come to school in bright orange tee shirts and white trainers. She didn't need trainers. She didn't need white trainers. Or an orange tee shirt. What could I do? I had to buy them. We had to go without something we needed instead.'
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