Since 2010, the UK social security system has undergone multiple, complex, and overlapping reforms. Public Health Scotland has today published a report which monitors the impact on health and health inequalities in Scotland.

The report looks at changes to the social security system, especially UK Welfare Reform, between 2010 and 2023. It also explores trends in key building blocks of health, such as income and employment, as well as changes in health at a population level in Scotland,

In conclusion, the report highlights that UK Welfare Reform has not led to the anticipated improvements in health among low-income working adults and their children, including in Scotland. Between 2010 and 2023, many previous improving trends in health in Scotland stalled or worsened. Crucially, many of these adverse trends pre-date the COVID-19 pandemic. The period also saw stalled improvement or worsening trends in poverty and long-term sickness. Similar negative trends in poverty and health were also seen in the rest of the UK.

The social security system has an important role to play in ensuring everyone has access to adequate incomes and can meet essential needs. Ensuring that this is achieved would help improve child health outcomes and adult mental health. Monitoring the impact of changes in social security policy on health and health inequalities can inform better policy design and improved outcomes for population health.

Public Health Scotland will now work with stakeholders to develop recommendations based on this report, and other relevant research, to help inform policies to improve outcomes for population health.

Read the report here.

Last updated: 09 July 2024