The health effects of social security changes in Scotland

A review of the impact of economic recovery on health inequalities in Scotland calls for measures to mitigate any ill-effects of social security reforms through service provision to be maintained and strengthened.

Published by NHS Health Scotland, Pulling in different directions? says:

From 2010, there were signs of a slowing in improvement in some aspects of population health, widening inequalities in mental health due to deterioration in the position of low-income working-age adults, and narrowing inequalities in overweight/obesity due to rising prevalence of overweight/obesity among the poorest.

Although it may be premature to attribute these changes to social security reform, the association between poorer working-age mental health and the level of sanction activity applied to unemployed people claiming JSA is striking.

It calls for further research to monitor the impact of changes to the social security system and economic trends on health and health inequalities, as well as investigation of which forms of economic development are most conducive to improved health and reduced health inequalities.

Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes, President of the British Psychological Society, says:

"The links between social security systems and economic trends on physical and psychological health are  still far from clear but the findings of NHS Scotland's 'Pulling in different directions' report, together with other recent research highlight the need for further and ongoing studies in this area across all four nations so that we can give the best possible, evidence based, advice to governments."