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Families in poverty demand a greater say

This news post is almost 10 years old

​Poverty Truth Commission says families living in poverty should be included in creating policies which affect them

Demands to involve those who live in poverty in the struggle to overcome it are at the heart of a major new report.

The Poverty Truth Commission (PTC), which will hold a conference tomorrow on the report’s findings, has called for a number of practical solutions following an 18-month study.

It wants to see the creation of a not-for-profit energy company, an end to zero-hour contracts, the reduction in the number of people being sanctioned by Job Centres and more workers receiving a living wage.

More than half of the Scots suffering poverty live in working households. And 20% of Scottish children are growing up in homes suffering economic hardship.

Poverty is a political choice and one which we should not tolerate

The commission, which is supported by the Church of Scotland and Faith in Community Scotland, will present its findings to an invited audience of 450 people at the event in Glasgow.

Sir Harry Burns, professor of global public health at Strathclyde University, sits on the commission.

He said: “Most people encounter poverty as beggars in the street. What they don’t appreciate is the extent of real poverty affecting their neighbours in their own communities.

“These are the families who, perhaps after a lifetime of working, struggle with day to day expenses such as food and go hungry in one of the world’s wealthiest countries.

“The Poverty Truth Commission gives a voice to these people. They should be heard and we should find ways of responding to their needs.”

The commission has identified people in poverty pay more for their fuel, food and financial services than those in better off areas.

It is now calling on ordinary citizens, as well as politicians, to do more to challenge the cuts in welfare benefits which have contributed to 65,000 Scots visiting foodbanks run by the Trussell Trust in the past year.

It comes as new figures show almost one in five people in Scotland are deprived in a number of areas and suffering from three or more measures of poverty such as a lack of food, heating and clothing.

Research by Poverty and Social Exclusion shows that in the past 30 years, the percentage of households in the UK who fall below society’s minimum standard of living has increased from 14% to 33%, despite the size of the UK economy doubling.

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “It is extremely concerning that in 21st Century Scotland, 18 per cent of people are multiply deprived.

“While figures in Scotland, are slightly trailing the rest of the UK they are still much too high.

“Poverty is a political choice and one which we should not tolerate."

Kelly backed measures called for by the PTC such as higher benefit levels and promotion of the living wage to tackle the problem.

But he added: “We also need to look at the longer term changes we need to effectively tackle the roots causes of these problems.

“Both the UK and Scottish Governments need to take action now to stop this crisis escalating.”