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Scots asked how they would tackle poverty

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Scots asked how they would target spending to tackle poverty if they controlled the Scottish Government’s budget

Ordinary Scots have been asked how they would target government spending to best tackle poverty.

They were taking part in an event exploring how participatory budgeting – a grassroots process where citizens set spending priorities - would work.

Scotland’s Poverty and Inequality Commission, alongside Oxfam Scotland and the Poverty Alliance, asked Scots how they would target spending to tackle poverty if they controlled the Scottish Government’s budget.

More than 40 attendees at an event in Glasgow, including those with direct experience of poverty and representatives from organisations providing support to people on low incomes, learned about how budget decisions affect the lives of all Scottish citizens and were given an opportunity to have their say about the practical solutions that matter most to them and their community.

Feedback gathered from the event will help shape the commission’s thinking about how the budget could be used to tackle the issues holding people back in Scotland and suggest ways the budget process can be made more inclusive and transparent.

Although growing in popularity at a local level, participative budgeting events are not often focused on national priorities.

The commission’s event was designed to start an inclusive, new conversation on national budgetary priorities to explore how funding to loosen the grip of poverty can be targeted effectively.

Commission chair Douglas Hamilton said: “We all share a responsibility to do everything we can to tackle poverty in Scotland. We are all affected by Government spending decisions and it is only right that people on low incomes have a say on what our country’s funding priorities should be.

“Together we will consider the extent to which the Scottish Government budget will make an impact on tackling poverty, and whether there are other ideas that should be considered.”

Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said: “Too often, too much power rests in the hands of too few people and nowhere is this more the case than within political decision-making, including how public money is spent.

“Encouragingly, there is growing momentum in Scotland behind opening-up the corridors of power. If we’re going to tackle poverty in Scotland then it’s vital we take more account of the views of people who know first-hand what it’s like to struggle to make ends meet.”

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, added: “With 1 million people in Scotland living in the grip of poverty, it’s clear that now more than ever that we need ambitious, radical and innovative approaches to meet our poverty reduction targets. In developing these approaches, it’s essential that people and communities with experience of poverty are at the forefront and have their voices heard in the decisions that most impact their lives.”