Much more needs to be done to combat poverty in Scotland

Crop poverty

The Poverty and Inequality Commission – which was set up by ministers to measure the government’s progress – said radical measures must be taken

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23rd May 2019 by Graham Martin 1 Comment

“Considerably more” needs to be invested by the Scottish Government if it is to make headway in tackling poverty.

The Poverty and Inequality Commission – which was set up by ministers to measure the government’s progress – said radical measures must be taken.

These could include raising taxes if the Holyrood administration is to close the “massive gap” between its ambitions – and its targets – and reality.

Ministers previously passed legislation that sets out to cut relative child poverty to less than 10% by 2030-31, while reducing absolute child poverty to below 5%.

Figures showed almost a quarter (23%) of children were living in relative poverty in 2016-17 – with this forecast to increase to 27% by 2023-24.

The commission, in its just-published analysis of the 2019-20 Scottish budget, highlighted the need for “more funding directly targeted at tackling poverty and inequality”.

It said the Scottish Government’s planned income supplement for poorer families should be brought in sooner than the scheduled date of 2022, saying it “strongly feels that many families need additional money in their pockets now”.

It told ministers: “The Scottish Government urgently needs to consider how they can progress this quicker or, if this is not feasible, what interim measures could help.”

In its report the commission states: “If tackling poverty is a priority of the government then this needs to be matched in the spending plans.

“If the Scottish Government is to have any chance of tackling poverty effectively and meeting its statutory targets on child poverty, it will need to take sustained action and invest considerably more than current levels.

“Future levels of funding must meet the scale of the challenge.”

Anti-poverty charities responded to the commission’s findings.

John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said: “What this report makes absolutely clear is that there is a massive gap between the scale of Scotland’s ambition to tackle child poverty and the scale of resources allocated to delivering that commitment.

“Investment to date in Best Start Grants, increases to school clothing grants, additional employability support for parents and extended early years childcare support are all really welcome, but they are nowhere near sufficient to make the kinds of impact on child poverty needed to meet the 2030 target of less than 10% of our children living in poverty.”

Citizens Advice Scotland policy manager Nina Ballantyne added: “The Scottish Citizens Advice Network helps hundreds of thousands of people each year, many struggling with soaring living costs and stagnant incomes.

“The experience of people who use our services chimes with what the commission has identified as priorities - social security, work and housing are among the most common topics people seek advice on. There is no single government policy that can solve poverty, but we support the commission’s call for a coordinated approach backed up by the right levels of investment.

“People struggling can visit their local Citizens Advice Bureau for help, whether that is to claim the benefits they are entitled to, cut their energy bills or get housing advice.”

The task ahead for the Scottish Government will not be easy – the scale of the challenge was set out this week by United Nations rapporteur on extreme poverty, Philip Alston.

He accused UK government ministers of being in a state of denial about the impact of policies, including the rollout of Universal Credit, since 2010.

Alston also questioned how much more devolved administrations could spend to mitigate the effects of Westminster-enforced austerity.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The 2019-20 Scottish Budget continues our strong investment in building a fairer and more prosperous Scotland, despite our resource budget being reduced by almost £2 billion in real terms since 2010-11 due to UK Government cuts.

“We are investing in truly transformational policies such as our commitment to deliver 50,000 affordable homes in this parliamentary term, backed by record investment of £825 million; an extra £210 million of resource and £175 million of capital to support our expansion of funded early learning and childcare to 1,140 hours by August 2020; and £435 in direct assistance through social security measures – all measures to help support those on low incomes and put money directly in the pockets of families in need.

“We are clear that in order to reach our ambitious child poverty targets we will require to make substantial new investment, and we have committed to introducing a new Income Supplement which will put money directly in the pockets of families in need.”

29th May 2019 by linda cormack

poverty isolation of our elderly kids not having a hot meal daily is not new its old hat our country suffered from the policy since Thatcher years our young people are lost in addiction their parents are lost to them and the world who blames them as no one gives a dame there all surplus to demand.