The Scottish Government's independent adviser on poverty has created a 15 point plan which she believes will create a fairer Scotland
More employers need to pay the living wage and offer family-friendly workplaces in order to tackle poverty and inequality in Scotland, according to Scotland's poverty adviser.
In her first report to the first minister on ways to tackle poverty, Shifting the Curve, the independent advisor on poverty and inequality Naomi Eisenstadt has set out 15 key recommendations.
These include better quality childcare and ways to boost take up of benefits.
She has also called for measures to address affordable housing problems, including building more social housing, targeting fuel poverty programmes on low income households, and being bold on local tax reform - including ending the council tax freeze.
Tackling poverty in the future must include more support for young people from poorer backgrounds so that cycles of poverty are not continued from generation to generation, claims the report.
Eisenstadt has also called for the government to ensure public service delivery is respectful, person-centred and preserves the dignity of people in poverty.
Everyone has a role to play, local government, the voluntary sector, the Scottish Government and people in poverty themselves
“The key message for me is that everyone has a role to play, local government, the voluntary sector, the Scottish Government and people in poverty themselves, who clearly have the best understanding of the challenges of living on a low income," said Eisenstadt.
Responding to the publication of her first report, Allan Young from the Poverty Truth Commission, which supports people with experience of poverty to tell their stories and campaign for change, said: “Naomi has been actively involved in our Mutual Mentoring Scheme, where she was paired up with someone with direct experience of poverty. We are heartened to see that the issues raised in Naomi’s meetings with those with experience of poverty, have formed the backbone of this report.
"Her report shows that people in poverty are part of the solution, not the problem.”
Professor Annette Hastings, of the University of Glasgow said: “This report is likely to make an important contribution to the debate in Scotland on how to shift the curve in relation to the experience of poverty in a fundamental and sustainable way.
“I welcome in particular the two recommendations which seek to support government and public agencies to prioritise tackling poverty and to embed it in the way in which they work.
"These recommendations recognise that people with low incomes need to be treated with more respect than is sometimes the case. It suggests that careful screening should take place of the policies and day-to-day activities of public agencies to ensure that they do not inadvertently further disadvantage people living on low incomes.”
Confirming early action on one of the report’s recommendations, Nicola Sturgeon announced £1 million of funding for up to six early learning and childcare trials to test different delivery models.
The trials will consider how to increase flexibility, better meet the needs of parents and children and meet local requirements. The results will be used as part of the expansion of childcare to 1140 hours a year.
The first minister said: “When I appointed Naomi to the role I was clear that she would work independently and be frank and challenging in her scrutiny of not only the work the Scottish Government was doing to alleviate poverty and inequality, but also what more can be done.
“I thank Naomi for the work she has carried out and welcome the report that she has published today. We now need to study it and look at what we’re doing well and should continue to do, and where we can improve.
"We will respond formally to the report before the end of March and set out how we intend to take forward its recommendations.”