Tackling poverty in Scotland

The existing economic model traps too many people in Scotland in a cycle of economic hardship, argues a new report from Oxfam. Allocating resources in a more effective and sustainable way could help to tackle poverty and inequality, it says, and deliver lasting social change.

Key recommendations

  • An official 'poverty commissioner' should be created in Scotland, to ensure that all major spending decisions are 'poverty proofed'. The commissioner would also support local communities in challenging government policies and private sector actions that do not contribute to socio-economic equality.
  • Employers in both the public and private sectors should be required to pay a 'living wage'. Greater earnings equality should be linked to state support – including reduced taxes and charges for those companies with lower pay multiples.
  • The amount someone is paid should reflect their contribution to society. This means increasing wages for those who create social value yet are poorly paid (such as childcare workers) and reducing wages for those who destroy social value yet are highly paid. Scotland’s public sector can give a lead by restructuring its own payment regimes to create incentives for those organisations that promote social value.
  • There should be a crack-down on tax evasion. A ‘Robin Hood tax’ – a tax on financial transactions – should also be pursued, with the money raised being used to protect those living in poverty, at home and overseas.
  • A 'sustainable livelihoods' approach is needed to social protection. This would recognise complex barriers to work and gender differences and caring responsibilities.
  • Funding should be provided to make it easier for deprived communities to own assets for local benefit. As part of a socio-economic duty, local councils should support communities to prepare for ownership, with up-front grants.

Source: Katherine Trebeck (with Francis Stuart), Our Economy: Towards a New Prosperity, Oxfam GB
LinksReport | Oxfam press release | BBC report | Guardian report

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