Campaigners demand poverty comes top of any new political agenda in Scotland
Priority should be given to people living in poverty when it comes to shaping new powers for Scotland, a leading charity has said.
The Poverty Alliance said there is now a “critical need” to act on demands for a more socially just Scotland after the referendum showed some of Scotland’s most deprived areas resoundingly backed a yes vote.
Glasgow, Dundee, North Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire – which have some of the highest multiple deprivation rates in Europe – voted yes with Glasgow and Dundee overwhelmingly so.
Figures show 16% of people were living in poverty in Scotland last year.
In real terms, this equates to 820,000 individuals living in poverty – an issue too big to ignore according to Peter Kelly, head of the Poverty Alliance.
There are changes that can be made that will help deliver the Scottish people’s aspirations for a fairer society - Peter Kelly
“All the main UK parties have promised further devolution and anti-poverty campaigners will have to consider these offers and what they mean for the fight for social justice,” he said.
“There are undoubtedly changes that can be made with the devolution of further powers that will help deliver the Scottish people’s aspirations for a fairer society.”
With Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats all putting forward different proposals for further powers, it is important there is clarity about what is being offered to Scottish people and the timescale for change, Kelly said.
John Dickie, director of Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said the fact that rising child poverty was such a recurring and high profile issue throughout the referendum campaign was hugely welcome, as was the level of public engagement in discussing how we create a fairer Scotland.
“Commitments have been made, new approaches to social security proposed and expectations raised.
“This has all been a far cry and a refreshing change from the prevailing UK discourse of welfare dependency, scroungers and benefit cuts that is pushing up to 100 000 more children into poverty in Scotland alone.”
"It is now vital that we grasp this opportunity to harness the public will and political focus generated over the last few weeks and use it to transform the lives of the one in five children for whom September 18th 2014 was just another day scarred by poverty”.
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