Political parties respond to new ‘state of the nation’ poverty report

March 23, 2016

Poverty to be put at heart of Holyrood election campaign

  • Politicians to respond to new ‘state of the nation’ Poverty 2016 report
  • Experts set out ‘tools’ that must be used to transform Scotland toward a poverty free country
  • Report published as IFS projections show 50% increase in poverty by 2020 and UK government abandons child poverty targets.

Cabinet Secretary Alex Neil, Scottish Labour’s Ken Macintosh and Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Greens will be among leading politicians who will today (Wednesday 23rd March) respond to a landmark ‘state of the nation’ publication bringing together the latest facts on the shocking extent of poverty and the implications for the next Scottish Parliament.

Leading authors of the report Poverty in Scotland 2016 will set out how key tools, including social security, fair work, education and local government, can be used over the next Scottish Parliament to transform Scotland toward a poverty free country.

The report is published in the wake of Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation as Secretary for Work and Pensions in response to his own Government’s UK budget – which proposed further cuts to disability benefits and failed to invest in support for families – and on the back of Institute of Fiscal Studies analysis forecasting a 50% increase in child poverty by 2020 (see note below).

Leading politicians will respond to the stark findings and proposed solutions in front of an invited audience of policy makers, campaigners, business, trade union, faith group and voluntary sector leaders at an event hosted by The Open University in Scotland.

The new Poverty in Scotland book is the result of a unique collaboration between the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland; The Open University in Scotland, Glasgow Caledonian University and the Poverty Alliance and draws together the expertise of academics, anti-poverty campaigners and other experts from across health, education, housing and local government.

John Dickie, Director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland said;

“Despite the challenging circumstances the authors of Poverty in Scotland 2016 are all absolutely clear that here in Scotland, government, employers and civil society have significant levers that can be used to transform Scotland toward a poverty free country. Powers to create more progressive taxes, to enhance social security, to pay a living wage and provide decent jobs, to focus our health service on tackling inequalities and to ensure housing is affordable must all be used in the next five years with a drive and ambition the likes of which we have never seen before."

Gerry Mooney, Senior Lecturer at The Open University in Scotland, and an editor and author of the new publication, said;

“The Chancellor's promise of more austerity and a further shifting of risk onto the already disadvantaged at the same time as the well-off increase their wealth is a vital reminder that poverty is the product of social, economic and political decisions. But despite the challenges at UK level it is clear that policies in Scotland do matter. The independence referendum and proposed devolution of new powers to the Scottish Parliament have opened up space for new ways of thinking about poverty and about the role of the welfare state in general. Poverty, and the social harm it causes can, and must, be prevented by action at every level. The challenge now is to shift the spotlight onto those processes that work to generate such widespread poverty at the same time as they enable others to accumulate such extreme wealth.”

John McKendrick, another lead editor, author and Senior Lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University; added;

“Although evidence about the nature and scale of poverty in contemporary Scotland paints a bleak portrait, there is much that we can do as citizens, and everyday decision-makers in businesses, Third Sector and community organisations, and in local and Scottish Government to use the resources at our disposal to create a fairer Scotland in which the potential of our most disadvantaged is not limited by poverty. We had set ourselves the challenge of eradicating child poverty by 2020, but with an estimated 210,000 children in Scotland living with poverty in 2016, we now need to ask ourselves‘are we prepared to fail more than one-fifth of Scotland’s children, or are we going to do better and do more to rid Scotland of this shame?”

Gill Scott, Professor Emeritus at Glasgow Caledonian University, and another Poverty in Scotland 2014 editor said;

“In discussing how social investment in services such as childcare and education as well policies to address a housing crisis, this book highlights how poverty reduction is not just about fiscal policy and welfare cuts but about innovation and socially just routes to a more equal and sustainable future in Scotland.”

Fiona McHardy (Research and Information Manager) at the Poverty Alliance added;

“Poverty in Scotland is a complex issue, with no single easy solution. But we know that for every problem, there is an answer. This new edition of Poverty in Scotland helps provide some of the answers to the problems that affect our society. Whether it is the growth in the use of emergency food aid, or the problems associated with low pay, we believe that the next Scottish Government can do more to address these problems. We also know that the problems of poverty in Scotland will not be solved by politicians alone – the third sector, the private sector and the media all have a part to play in helping deliver real change. We hope the analysis provided here will help to bring real change over the next five years.”

For further details/interviews please contact:

John Dickie, Director of CPAG in Scotland, on 0141 552 3656 or 07795 340 618 or Kenny Stewart, The Open University in Scotland, 0131 549 7961 or 07890 526682

Notes to Editors
  • Poverty in Scotland 2016 is a unique publication drawing together the expertise of academics, anti-poverty campaigners and other experts both in Scotland and internationally. It is published by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), in association with The Open University in Scotland, Glasgow Caledonian University and the Poverty Alliance ). It is the seventh in a series published since 1995. Complementary media copies and a summary briefing are available on request contact John Dickie on 0141 552 3656 or 07795 340 618.
  • Child poverty projections: The IFS projects a 50 per cent increase in relative child poverty – from 17.0 per cent in 2014-15 to 25.7 per cent in 2020-21 – and an increase in absolute child poverty from 16.7 per cent in 2014-15 to 18.3 per cent in 2020-21. The latter will mean that over a decade, the income of families towards the bottom of the income distribution has actually gone down – something without precedent in modern times. The Resolution Foundation’s Autumn 2015 projections suggest 200,000 more children will fall into poverty in 2016/17 as a direct result of measures in the Summer Budget. The projections below are based on income before housing costs are deducted.