Third sector groups unite against poverty


Action urged to alleviate poverty as new commission is launched 

5th September 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

A united call by Scotland’s leading charities is urging politicians to increase measures to tackle poverty.

In an open letter to all Scottish party leaders, 37 organisations say a failure to adequately address economic inequality is holding back attempts to tackle poverty in Scotland.

Official statistics show one in five people in Scotland live in poverty – a figure which has remained stubbornly high according to anti-poverty campaigners.   

The letter’s release coincides with today’s inaugural meeting of Scotland’s new Poverty and Inequality Commission in Edinburgh.

The commission is chaired by Douglas Hamilton alongside deputy chairs Naomi Eisenstadt and Kaliani Lyle. 

The letter says: “Extreme economic inequality is a global issue but the concentration of money at the top of Scottish society is holding back efforts to end the scandal that nearly one in five people in our rich country live in poverty.

“It is not a coincidence that a record number of Scots are turning to foodbanks when the incomes of the richest 10% of people in Scotland exceed those of the bottom 40% put together. Wealth is even more unequally shared: the richest 1% own more than the bottom 50% put together.

“Worryingly, without action, this extreme inequality is predicted to get worse.”

The letter - signed by Oxfam, Shelter, SCVO, Engender, Inclusion Scotland, the Poverty Truth Commission, Barnardos, Citizens Advice Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, the Scottish Refugee Council and the Scottish Community Development Centre, among others - calls for Scotland's party leaders to endorse the commission’s work.  

It continues: “Many of our organisations are all too familiar with the distressing consequences: from the parents who don’t have enough money to feed their children to those women and men stuck on zero hours contracts or in low-paid jobs which fail to pay enough to make ends meet."

And it adds: “We recognise that women are often impacted hardest and generally face higher levels of economic inequality.”

It will need civil society organisations, community activists and politicians to help build momentum for change

The agencies say some of the foundations for a fairer Scotland are being laid. However, they point out that while there appears to be cross-party political commitment to tackling inequality and poverty, as well as public support, the policies needed to achieve these goals are not yet sufficiently in place.

While not all powers rest in Scotland, the organisations say the Scottish Parliament must do more to maximise the use of devolved levers.

The letter states: “Encouragingly, as the leaders of Scotland’s main political parties, you have all stated your concern about the scale of economic inequality and poverty in Scotland.

"It’s now time to urgently scale up Holyrood’s policy action to match the depth of the challenge we face.

“The Poverty and Inequality Commission creates a new platform for radical ideas but it cannot deliver change on its own, or during its first day on the job. It will need civil society organisations, community activists and politicians to help build momentum for change."

Nicola Sturgeon who will today outline the Scottish Government's Programme for Government at the Scottish Parliament, has said the commission will have a key role in “scrutinising how governmental budgets, policy and practice can have the strongest impacts on poverty and inequality”.