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Poverty must remain the focus after the referendum

This news post is almost 10 years old

​Anti-poverty group says tackling equality must be a key issue whatever the result of the referendum

Poverty must remain at the top of the political agenda – whatever the outcome of the independence referendum.

The Poverty Alliance has called on all sides of the debate to maintain the passion and commitment that has been shown through the campaign and to turn it to finding lasting solutions to inequality in Scotland.

Throughout the referendum campaign, issues of social justice have been central to the argument.

Whether on issues of food poverty, low pay, unemployment or child poverty, all sides have stated that they are committed to making real change to create a more socially just Scotland.

The Poverty Alliance said that on 19 September politicians and activists from both campaigns must begin to find ways of working together to bring people together and tackle poverty.

Both campaigns must be prepared to set aside their differences and work together for a better Scotland, one where the blight of poverty is effectively tackled

Peter Kelly, the group’s director, said the referendum has shown that not only is there an appetite for social change, but that more people than ever want their voices to be heard.

He stressed that with more than 100,000 people registering to vote in the last month alone, new ways have to be found to ensure the democratic impulse that many people have experienced for the first time is sustained and turned into genuine grassroots democratic politics, regardless of the outcome of the referendum.

Kelly said: “This is an exciting time in Scottish politics and many people will consider the referendum to be the most important election of their lives.

“It is fantastic to see so many people registered to vote and I hope turnout will be high on the day.

“Poverty and social justice has been at the centre of the debate on independence and it been heartening to see so much debate about the type of Scotland we want to live in.

“In 2012/13, 16% of people in Scotland were living in poverty, more than 800,000. People on both sides of the debate have agreed that this is unacceptable and that we need to re-think our approach to tackling the problem, whether it is low benefit levels, unemployment or low pay. What the campaigns disagree on is how we best achieve this.

“It has become increasingly clear that the results will be close and it is important that people on both sides of the debate believe their voices will be heard regardless of the result. In particular we must ensure that the voices of those who are rarely heard, those people living in poverty, are taken seriously after the result of the referendum is known.

“Both campaigns must be prepared to set aside their differences and work together for a better Scotland, one where the blight of poverty is effectively tackled.”

A little over three weeks after the referendum the Poverty Alliance will be coordinating Challenge Poverty Week, which will take place from the 12 to 18 October.

This will be a week of debates and action designed to show what has been done to tackle poverty.