In summer 2015, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, asked me to offer informed advice to her government on poverty and inequality. This report is the main output from my work to date. It has been informed by one-to-one conversations, group discussions, public meetings, and presentations; as well as by a wealth of research, data and analysis.
The central question in my meetings with people has been: how can we shift the curve? In other words, what actions could the Scottish Government (and others) take to significantly reduce the numbers of people living in poverty in Scotland? The report explores three main areas - in-work poverty, housing affordability, and young people's life chances - and provides a series of recommendations about each of them. For reference a summary of the recommendations is provided at the back of this report.
It would have been impossible to produce this paper without a great deal of help and support. I'm grateful to everyone that I have met. 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.
Firstly, thank you to all those who have shared their expertise and experience. In particular, the Poverty Truth Commission and Marie Therese Martin, who gave so freely in sharing her experiences with me. I would also like to thank the people that I met on project visits, particularly those that attended the Haven Project discussion group; and Liz Dahl and Anna Flaherty of Circle for arranging the session. I'm also grateful to Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick, Professor Annette Hastings, Professor Nick Bailey, Professor Glen Bramley, Professor Mark Stephens and Professor Ken Gibb, who shared their academic expertise, knowledge and research.
Secondly, thank you to the many Scottish Government officials, local government and third sector representatives and other individuals who again have been so helpful and supportive. And finally, a big thank you to Shirley Laing, the lead Scottish Government official for this work, and my Secretariat team - Adam Reid, Caro Cowan, Paul Tyrer, Alison Stout and Clare McIntyre - who have done a huge amount to support me in the development of this report.
While all the above made significant contributions to this report, the recommendations are mine, as an independent advisor. Any errors or misjudgements are entirely my responsibility.
I now have pleasure to pass this Report to the First Minister.
Naomi Eisenstadt CB