Poverty to be placed at heart of referendum debate
- Deputy First Minister and Shadow Social Justice Secretary to respond to new report
- Experts set out principles for a fairer Scotland – whatever referendum outcome
- Up to 100 000 more children being pushed into poverty by 2020 after years of real progress
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Shadow Social Justice Secretary Jackie Baillie will today (Thursday 13th March) respond to a landmark ‘state of the nation’ publication bringing together the latest facts on the shocking extent of poverty in Scotland and the implications for the country’s constitutional future.
Poverty in Scotland 2014 – the independence referendum and beyond sets out the anti-poverty cases for both the UK and independence, as well as proposing a set of principles for a ‘more equitable Scotland’, whatever the outcome of the referendum.
The leading politicians will respond to the stark findings and proposed principles in front of an invited audience of policy makers, campaigners, business, trade union, faith group and voluntary sector leaders at an event hosted by The Open University in Scotland.
Debate will also focus on how other regions and nations have sought to tackle poverty within a variety of constitutional settlements and demands for autonomy.
The new Poverty in Scotland book is the result of a unique collaboration between the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland; The Open University in Scotland, Glasgow Caledonian University and the Poverty Alliance and draws together the expertise of academics, anti-poverty campaigners and other experts from across Europe.
John Dickie head of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland said;
“It is vital that all sides in the debate don’t just settle the constitutional question but help build the public support and political will needed to create a more equal Scotland wherever powers end up lying. That means making the case for the progressive taxation, universal services, fairer labour market and gender equality that the range of expert contributors to this study make clear are fundamental to a Scotland free of poverty.”
Gerry Mooney, Senior Lecturer at The Open University in Scotland, and an editor and author of the new publication, said;
“The UK Government’s ‘austerity’ and welfare reform measures are having a far reaching and detrimental impact on people and places across Scotland. However, the debate around welfare in Scotland reflects also the distinctive Scottish political landscape and this is reflected in the independence debate where the future of welfare in Scotland has come to occupy centre stage”.
Gill Scott, Professor Emeritus at Glasgow Caledonian University, and another Poverty in Scotland 2014 editor said;
“It is not just Scotland where the potential for a better welfare settlement accompanies demands for greater sovereignty. The experience in other countries reminds us that if welfare provision is not prioritized the promise of a ‘different’ Scotland will be an empty one for many.”
John McKendrick, another lead editor, author and Senior Lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University; added;
“There is overwhelming evidence of poverty in contemporary Scotland and all projections point toward more, and more intensive, poverty in the years' ahead. It's too easy to make the mistake of blaming poverty on Austerity, the economy and the need to reduce the budget deficit. Scotland, and the UK, needs to remain steadfast in its commitment to making the difficult decisions that work toward, rather than undermine, the eradication of child poverty.”