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"Poverty is a political choice": cost of living summit demands more from Holyrood

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The day of meetings is being jointly organised by trade unions and charities from across Scotland.

Glasgow is hosting Scotland’s largest cost of living crisis summit as the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) and the Poverty Alliance demand more from the Scottish Government to ease the burden felt by thousands across the country.

The summit, which will hear from over 40 of Scotland’s civic, community and trade union organisations on pay, benefits, energy poverty, housing and transport, will seek to form a joint platform, heralding a new partnership in tackling the crisis.

Headed by the STUC and the Poverty Alliance, the group will call for “unrelenting and unapologetic” resistance to the crisis ahead of further fuel cap rises being brought forward in the winter.

STUC general secretary Roz Foyer said: “Poverty is a political choice. The pandemic has exposed the deep-rooted inequalities across Scotland, exacerbated by a cost-of-living crisis not of workers’ choice nor making.

“We cannot – and will not – be held responsible for the negligence of our political class in their failures to tackle rising inflation coupled with falling wages.

“This summit, the largest seen in Scotland on this crisis, calls for the Scottish Government to go further, using the powers of the parliament to mitigate this emergency. Their recent spending review plans to foist harmful cuts on our public services is utterly incompatible with the response needed to help those impacted by this crisis.

“Whilst the UK government are still firmly within our sights - and we will be front and centre at the national demonstration outside Westminster parliament this Saturday – we will be unrelenting and unapologetic in our resistance to this crisis until further action is taken.”

Charities such as the Trussell Trust, the Larder and Friends of the Earth Scotland will take part in sessions, with stagnating pay, attacks on basic social security and cuts to public services on the agenda. 

Faced with the biggest fall in living standards since the 1950s, community organisations and trade unions in Scotland are coming together to demand real action to tackle this crisis.

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “The only way that we can make lasting change when it comes to poverty, is through cooperation and solidarity.

“By bringing together trade unions and voluntary and community groups, we want to build a movement that puts compassion and justice at the heart of public life, in our communities, in Holyrood, and in Westminster.

“When that happens, we can start to make real progress in rebuilding and renewing our social security safety net, making sure everyone has an adequate income, investing in the public services we all rely on, and building a better future that’s fit for the generations to come.”

A leading anti-food poverty campaigner has demanded the Scottish Government declare a 'National Food Emergency' in response to the cost of living crisis and rising levels of hunger.

Angela Moohan, chief executive of The Larder, which provides healthy meals for vulnerable people and training opportunities in the food sector, said that “it is the poorest in our society that will be disproportionately disadvantaged by all aspects of the Cost of Living, not least rising food costs".