Ruth Boyle outlines the policy demands of this year's cross-organisation Challenge Poverty Week, and says it's time to build a fairer, greener country
It is completely unjust that people are experiencing poverty in a wealthy country like Scotland.
Since 2013, Challenge Poverty Week has been a point in the year where organisations across the whole of Scotland come together to collectively raise their voices to highlight the injustice of poverty in Scotland.
The week represents an opportunity to showcase work that has been done throughout the year to tackle poverty, both locally and nationally, while also calling for system change to address the root causes of poverty.
Over 400 organisations took part last year, including community organisations, faith groups, elected members, large national NGOs and a range of voluntary organisations. This year, Challenge Poverty Week will take place between Monday 2nd October to Sunday 8th October.
Our policy asks
Every year, Challenge Poverty Week places emphasis on a number of key policy asks that will help us to free people from the grip of poverty. These policies are designed to turn our shared values of justice and compassion into action, and to highlight to our politicians what changes are required to build a Scotland free from poverty.
We’ve now published our policy asks for Challenge Poverty Week 2023, which were developed in collaboration with a short life working group. We’re calling for substantive action to ensure Scotland is a place where: we support our communities and volunteers; we have safe, secure and sustainable homes; we all have enough to live a decent and dignified life; we can all get where we need to go; and no one goes hungry.
Our specific asks include:
- To ensure everyone has access to a safe, secure and sustainable home, we’re calling for new social homes; the introduction of a homelessness prevention duty; and grants for energy efficiency measures.
- Poverty is fundamentally about the lack of access to an adequate income, so we are calling on the Scottish Government to deliver a Minimum Income Guarantee.
- To improve the affordability and accessibility of public transport, we’re calling for the extension of the concessionary travel scheme and the integration of our transport system so that concessionary travel is also an option on our trains, ferries and trams.
- So that everyone has dignified access to good quality, healthy and sustainable food, we’re calling on the Scottish Government to improve access to ‘cash first’ food responses and support wellbeing through community food approaches. There’s a role, too, for the private sector in committing to setting the lowest prices on basic food items to reduce the costs of essentials.
We’ve also worked with SCVO to echo calls on fair funding for the third sector. Our community and voluntary organisations are often at the frontline of efforts to challenge poverty in Scotland, providing vital and invaluable support to people trapped in the grip of poverty. They deserve fair funding that recognises their value; offers longer-term awards of three years or more; covers inflation-based uplifts; and accommodates paying staff the real Living Wage. This fair funding approach is essential for a sustainable voluntary sector which can offer Fair Work, support volunteers, and deliver high-quality outcomes for people and communities.
We know that a Scotland free from poverty is possible, and we hope you will join us to raise your voice against poverty. It’s time to build a fairer, greener Scotland where everyone has access to an adequate income that allows for a dignified and decent life.
If you would like to find out more about our policy asks, or how you can get involved in Challenge Poverty Week, visit our website.
Ruth Boyle is policy and campaigns manager at the Poverty Alliance.