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Recommendations on tackling poverty

Published: 20 Jan 2016 10:26

Issued on behalf of The Independent Advisor on Poverty and Inequality.

Naomi Eisenstadt, the Independent Advisor on Poverty and Inequality, has published her first report to the First Minister today.

The report - 'Shifting the Curve' – sets out 15 recommendations on what more the Scottish Government and others can do to tackle poverty in Scotland. These include proposals on:

  • The living wage, quality childcare, family-friendly working, and benefits uptake – to tackle in-work poverty;
  • Building more social housing, targeting fuel poverty programmes on low income households, and being bold on local tax reform – to address housing affordability;
  • Reviewing policies and services relevant to older children and young adults, with particular emphasis on those from poorer backgrounds, to boost young people's life chances; and
  • Ensuring that public service delivery is respectful, person-centred and preserves the dignity of people in poverty.

Ms Eisenstadt said:

"I've been struck by the genuinely open and constructive approach that people have taken in engaging with me in my role as Independent Advisor.

"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."

Professor Annette Hastings, of 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."

Allan Young from the Poverty Truth Commission said:

"The Poverty Truth Commission welcomes this report. 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."

Marie-Therese, a member of the Poverty Truth Commission's Mutual Mentoring Scheme said:

"Naomi is very in touch with the actual truth behind poverty. She knows the real crux of the matters from her hands on experience and from actively seeking out and listening to groups who are not heard. She always asked the right questions and wanted to learn more."

Notes to editors

Background

Over the past six months the Independent Advisor has been speaking to a wide range of stakeholders across Scotland, including people with experience of living on low incomes.

She asked everyone for one key recommendation to tackle poverty effectively and used this to inform her approach. She also looked at poverty data and identified three key areas of interest – in-work poverty; young people's life chances; and housing costs and affordability that informed the recommendations in the report, which are as follows:

In-work poverty

1. Build on Living Wage Accreditation – a focus on larger employers, and on incentives, would be useful.

2. Encourage pay ratio disclosure as a way of tackling pay inequality.

3. Ensure childcare commitments focus on quality to improve outcomes, and consider providing a limited number of free hours of childcare for primary school aged children.

4. Make family flexible working more explicit within the Business Pledge, and consider whether approaches such as the Timewise programme could promote flexible working.

5. Do more to ensure that people claim the benefits they are entitled to.

6. Make effective use of new social security powers but proceed with caution.

Housing affordability

7. Build more social housing.

8. Ensure fuel poverty programmes are focused to support those on low incomes, and do more to tackle the poverty premium in home energy costs.

9. Be bold on local tax reform.

Life chances of young people, aged 16-24

10. Carry out a comprehensive review of the policies and services relevant older children and young adults, with particular emphasis on those from poorer backgrounds.

11. Reduce the number of government-supported employment programmes targeting this group of young people and simplify the landscape, to provide a clearer, sharper focus.

12. Ensure that the new approach to employer engagement in education is having an impact on improving skills for work of young people.

13. Do more to tackle occupational segregation.

Cross-cutting

14. Ensure that public service delivery is respectful, person-centred and preserves the dignity of people in poverty: pre-employment and in-service training should include the importance of avoiding stigma and understanding the challenges of living on low incomes.

15. Commence the socio-economic duty in the Equality Act 2010, when powers are available.

The full report is available at: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/01/1984