Until now, policy makers interested in tackling disadvantage have mainly relied on income poverty as their key measure. This approach, enshrined in the Child Poverty Act 2010, focuses mainly on income poverty, to the exclusion of other disadvantages like poor housing, worklessness and ill health. Recently, this income-based approach has come under growing criticism – in particular from the Field Review on Poverty and Life Chances – which instead advocated multidimensional measures, which provide a fuller picture of disadvantage.

This report is the first large-scale analysis of Scottish families’ experiences of multiple disadvantage. Using data from the Scottish Household survey, it provides new analysis to help us understand the scale and nature of disadvantage affecting families in Scotland. This analysis has two key benefits beyond that of providing a more accurate picture. First, it is more easily understood by the public, while complex income-based measures are not. And second, it can contribute to better informed policy from both central and local government by identifying a variety of factors contributing to disadvantage.

A Wider Lens is the first phase of a research project on family disadvantage in Scotland. The next stage will use indepth qualitative research techniques (including focus groups, diary-prompted interviews and ethnographic visits to families’ homes) to develop detailed knowledge of the challenges experienced by families suffering from multiple disadvantages, and to develop policy solutions to help overcome them.