The Poverty Truth Commission has produced a Manifesto challenging people to sign up to the same commitments the members of the Commission hold about many different forms of poverty in Scotland including Welfare Reform, Positive Alternatives to Violence and Kinship Care. It will be featured in today's Evening Times.
In the run up to the UK General Election, we have made the following commitments and we challenge others to do the same:
We believe that the deep-set problems and far reaching consequences of poverty will not be truly tackled until those living this reality are seen as part of the solution - not as part of the problem. We believe that people affected must participate in the policy making process from beginning to end. Only by doing this do we believe that real and lasting change is possible.
We will not support any initiatives or legislation that have a negative effect on people living in poverty. Instead, we will promote policies and initiatives which address the root causes of poverty and inequality in Scotland.
We recognise that where you live has a huge impact on how long you live (by as much as 20 years) and what opportunities are available to you. We will actively work against this postcode lottery for living, jobs, benefits, loans and services of all kinds that exists for people living in our poorest communities.
We are deeply dismayed by the statutory support provided for children being looked after by kinship carers. We call upon all levels of government – and all political parties – to work together to give these children the support and resources that they deserve.
We understand that violence is a public health issue linked to the growing levels of inequality in our society. As a result we know that it cannot be adequately dealt with through policing alone. We want communities and the public sector to come together to support initiatives which will help to ensure a long term reduction of all forms of violence.
We know the devastating impact which alcohol and drugs can have on people’s lives and that the consequences of these are often most severe for those living in poverty. We will advocate and support initiatives that tackle the root causes of addiction in order to reduce the use of alcohol and drugs by people of every age and economic status.
We are aware that the debate about the level of the national debt is likely to dominate public debate at this time. However, we are also deeply concerned about the high levels of personal debt particularly for people living in poverty. We will work to outlaw the exorbitant interest rates which people in poverty often have to endure as well as promoting possible and viable alternatives. These will include the extension of credit unions and the development of micro finance.
Jim Wallace, Co-chair of the Poverty Truth Commission said, “This Manifesto not only highlights the issues of concern to Scotland’s poorest communities, it demands a new way of working. My engagement with the Poverty Truth Commission has convinced me that we are more likely to identify solutions to some deep-seated problems if politicians and officials involve in the process of policy-making those who experience the reality of poverty in their daily lives. That is a real challenge to the next government, whatever its political complexion.”
Tricia McConalogue, Co-chair of the commission commented “If the future Government is serious about building a better society then it needs to work hard to address all strands of this Manifesto and to break the cycle of poverty in order for everyone to feel part of and engage in society. It is essential that no one is excluded from society.”
For more information about the Manifesto and real life stories behind the policies go to www.povertytruthcommission.org.