By Bill Heaney

Jackie Baillie has said that years of political and economic failure by SNP and Tory governments has left people economically vulnerable, as figures show more than 1 in 5 households have no savings going into the pandemic.

The last full Scottish Household Survey in 2019 showed that 22 percent of households in Scotland had no savings whatsoever, leaving thousands of people exposed when the cost of living crisis hit.

The figure rises to 34 percent of households among those with an income less than £20,000 per year and to a staggering 60 percent among single parents.

Scottish Labour have warned that this has left people making impossible choices to make ends meet as bills rise, warning that SNP and Tory inaction on the cost of living crisis risks creating a “tsunami of debt”.

Statistics research into the cost of living crisis revealed that 30 percent of people in Scotland are spending less on food or essentials, with 31 percent of people reporting using less fuel or electricity and 13 percent saying they have had to borrow money, even before the April price cap rise or the National Insurance hike came into effect.

The same research found that 30 percent of adults in Scotland said they couldn’t afford to pay an unexpected bill of £850.    

Jackie Baillie, Dumbarton constituency MSP said: “Sadly, there is no escaping the fact this cost of living crisis has been made all the more painful by the economic insecurity that is rife across Scotland.

“We have been severely impacted by years of political and economic failure by two incompetent governments. This has left far too many households living paycheck to paycheck, with no savings available to fall back on when it comes to the crunch.

“For far too long these governments have done too little to tackle hardship and poverty and these effects are felt deeply across West Dunbartonshire where levels of poverty are higher than in most other areas of Scotland.

“SNP and Tory inaction is forcing people to make impossible decisions and creating a tsunami of debt.

“Scottish Labour have a clear plan that could save households over £1,000 and on May 5th you can elect a local champion who will stand up for your interests.”

Savings Data from the Scottish Household Survey

Table 6.10 Whether respondent or partner has any savings or investments by net annual household income
Households No savings Has savings Don’t know Refused
Up to £10,000 34 56 3 7
£10,001-£20,000 34 59 1 6
£20,001-£30,000 24 67 1 7
Over £30,000 10 83 1 6
All 23 70 1 6

 * Note that the ‘All’ figures may differ slightly from those in Table 6.11 due to missing income information

Table 6.11 Whether respondent or partner has any savings or investments by household type


Households No savings Has savings Don’t know Refused
Single adult 32 60 1 7
Small adult 20 74 1 5
Single parent* 60 33 2 5
Small family 24 68 1 7
Large family 28 65 0 6
Large adult 16 73 1 9
Older smaller 7 83 0 9
Single older 14 71 3 12
All 22 69 1 8

 Cost of living Data from ONS – conducted between Nov 21 and March 22:

I am shopping around more 35 31 40
I am spending less on food shopping and essentials 30 26 35
I am spending less on non-essentials 50 45 55
I am cutting back on non-essential journeys in my vehicle 33 28 37
I am using less fuel such as gas or electricity in my home 31 26 35
I am using my savings 23 19 27
I am borrowing money from friends or family 5 3 8
I am using credit more than usual, for example, credit cards, loans or overdrafts 13 10 17
I am working more hours than usual 4 1 6
Other 1 0 2
None of these 14 11 18
  • Respondents were able to select more than one response.   In Scotland, 30 percent of adults say that they household would be unable to afford to pay an unexpected but unnecessary expense of £850. This compares to 27 percent in England 29 percent in the UK as a whole.  

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