Some 150 charities, trade unions, campaign groups, and community organisations have come together in Scotland to sign a letter calling on the First Minister to put tackling poverty at the heart of his next Programme for Government.
The Programme for Government is expected to be published shortly after the Scottish Parliament returns from its summer recess, and will set out proposed Bills and government priorities for the year ahead.
The organisations, including Shelter Scotland, Christians Against Poverty, Oxfam Scotland and Living Rent, are calling for it to include: a boost to people’s incomes through a Minimum Income Guarantee; an expansion of funded childcare; an increase in the Scottish Child Payment; a review of the adequacy of support provided to disabled people; and a pause in pursuing people who can’t pay unaffordable debts to councils and other public sector bodies.
It also asks for action to fund new social homes for rent, more action to prevent homelessness, and support for warm homes.
Other measures include:Expanding concessionary bus travel to under 25s, people in receipt of low-income and disability benefits, unpaid carers, and asylum seekers. Boosting the Scottish Welfare Fund, to ensure people can afford good quality, healthy and sustainable food Supporting community food initiatives Strengthening support for Scotland’s voluntary and community groups who are often at the frontline of action to tackle poverty
In the letter, Poverty Alliance Acting Director David Reilly tells First Minister Humza Yousaf:
“All of our organisations strongly welcome the development of key strategies designed to tackle poverty and inequality in Scotland.
“While this leadership is extremely important… this has not yet led to a meaningful reduction in overall poverty rates in Scotland.
“On your election to First Minister, you stated that the defining mission of your leadership should be to reduce, if not eradicate, the injustice of poverty. We know that people living in poverty cannot wait, and the time for action is now.
“Working together to realise these policy asks will help to ensure that poverty is a thing of the past, providing a lifeline to families who are struggling to stay afloat. We urge you to seize the opportunity to put action to tackle poverty at the heart of the forthcoming Programme for Government.”
Commenting, Emma Jackson, National Director Scotland of Christians Against Poverty, said:
“We need our government to take bold, urgent action, so that every household has sufficient income to live a decent, dignified, healthy, and financially secure life.
“This includes strengthening the public services that we all rely on, but which are a lifeline for people on the lowest incomes.”