Blog: Our national priorities have to include housing and carers’ needs

David Eyre

David Eyre,
Communications Officer, Poverty Alliance

A just and compassionate Scotland is one that recognises the wellbeing of all its citizens as central to a successful nation.

We’ve made progress in bringing that message into Government in recent years – and we now have a Cabinet Minister for a Wellbeing Economy.

But to really build an economy that is focused on people’s wellbeing, we need to be clear about how we’re going to get there. And to do that, we need to strengthen Scotland’s National Outcomes.

The National Outcomes are the goals that the Scottish Government wants to achieve for its citizens. They are designed to ‘reflect the values and aspirations of the people of Scotland’, reduce inequality, and be aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. They include things like ensuring people:

  • grow up loved, safe and respected so that they realise their full potential
  • live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe
  • are creative and their vibrant and diverse cultures are expressed and enjoyed widely
  • have a globally competitive, entrepreneurial, inclusive and sustainable economy
  • are well educated, skilled and able to contribute to society
  • value, enjoy, protect and enhance their environment
  • have thriving and innovative businesses, with quality jobs and fair work for everyone
  • are healthy and active
  • respect, protect and fulfil human rights and live free from discrimination
  • are open, connected and make a positive contribution internationally
  • tackle poverty by sharing opportunities, wealth and power more equally

Right now, the Scottish Government is consulting about the future shape of the National Outcomes. In our response, we said we believed all of the existing outcomes should be kept – especially the outcome on tackling poverty.

Everyone needs care at some point in their life

But we think the Government can go further towards building a better, more just Scotland with the inclusion of two new outcomes, on housing, and on the needs of people who care for others.

Everyone needs care at some point in their life: as a child, in older age, disabled people, or due to ill health. It is completely unjust that there has been a long-standing and systemic undervaluation of care and the needs of carers.

Too many carers across Scotland, both paid and unpaid, are locked in the grip of poverty as a result. The long-standing gendered nature of care means that women feel that injustice the most. In Scotland, women account for as many as 70% of unpaid carers, 96% of childcare workers, and 80% of adult social care workers.

In both the childcare and social care sectors there is too much low pay, poor working conditions, and job insecurity.

We want Scotland to fully value and invest in care and end that injustice for good. We support the calls of the A Scotland that Cares coalition calling for a new, dedicated National Outcome focused on care and carers in Scotland.

Sadly, Scotland is facing a housing emergency.

Having a safe, secure, warm home is one of our most basic needs. It lays the foundation for many other human needs to be met.

Sadly, Scotland is facing a housing emergency. And if urgent action is not taken, this will make it much more difficult to address child poverty and improve health, education, and employment outcomes.

This is why it is so important that housing is prioritised within the National Performance Framework. We are therefore echoing calls from organisations such as Crisis Scotland and Shelter Scotland, for a new outcome that says:

“Everyone has a home to live in that is good quality, affordable, and suitable to their needs, and can access the support they need to live in it, so that no one becomes homeless.”

The National Outcomes are measured by National Indicators – statistics that we can use to check whether the Government is heading in the right direction.

But we are pointing out big gaps in the data. We can’t properly measure progress on ‘giving more opportunities to all people living in Scotland’ and ‘reducing inequalities’ because of a lack of information about groups that are more likely to be suffering from inequality and denied opportunities – like disabled people, single parents, Black and minority ethnic people, and young parents.

Similarly, we can’t properly measure progress on ‘fair work’ without robust labour market data about race, disability status, and gender.

If the Scottish Government can commit to filling these data gaps, and to including the new National Outcomes on caring and housing, we will have a stronger idea of where we are on the road to a Scotland without the injustice of poverty.

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