New group aims to create fairer Scotland

Cropcorona rainbow

The Advisory Board on Social Renewal will contain a variety of third sector representatives 

10th June 2020 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

An expert advisory board is to be established to drive progress towards a fairer, more equal Scotland in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The group will listen to and learn from people with lived experience of poverty and inequality and membership will draw on expertise from equality and disabled people’s organisations, housing and homelessness bodies, town centre and regeneration groups, and anti-poverty campaigners.

The group will be jointly chaired by communities secretary Aileen Campbell and social security secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville. Members will include Emma Ritch of Engender, Jon Sparkes of Crisis, and the Scottish Refugee Council’s Sabir Zazai.

Campbell said: “The health, social and economic impacts of Covid-19 have not been experienced equally in Scotland. This pandemic has highlighted existing inequalities, some of which have persisted for decades, and in many cases has made them more pronounced.

“The crisis has given the Scottish Government and our partners the opportunity to challenge traditional ways of working – and in some cases this has brought about real change. We need to build on that progress to create a fairer, more equal Scotland in the post-pandemic era.

“That is why independent advice from leading experts and people with lived experience will be so important as we face the challenge of our long-term social renewal over the coming months and years.”

Somerville said: “While this pandemic has affected everyone it has not been felt equally across society. There are real opportunities for change as we move towards the phases of recovery and renewal. We must ensure our response builds on the progress made through actions such as the doubling of the Scottish Welfare Fund budget and creation of the £50 million Wellbeing Fund.

“While we are facing an extremely difficult period of recovery, particularly for the economy, we must focus on supporting people in the most effective way. We must continue to consider the impact our policies have on all protected characteristics including sex, race and disability. The advisory board will guide us and ensure our actions give people more control over their own lives.”

Anna Fowlie, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), is amongst those who are joining the board.

She said: “I am pleased to be invited to join Scottish Government’s Social Renewal Advisory Board. As we move to the recovery phase in Scotland’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen several groups being formed looking at recovery from different angles. It is vital that there is a coherent response that focuses on wellbeing and inclusion, and recognises the vital role that the voluntary sector plays in Scotland. This group cannot simply be a talking shop – it must result in action and change.

“I am acutely aware of the fact that SCVO can be viewed as a ‘usual suspect’ and I am determined to make sure that this group hears from a range of voices that reflect Scottish communities. People, communities and voluntary organisations are struggling to cope in very challenging times and we need to be able to emerge in a way that is different, and follows through on Scotland’s commitment to community empowerment and social justice.”