Guest blog: A new beginning… or more of the same?

Linda Craik - End Poverty Edinburgh

Linda Craik,
End Poverty Edinburgh

A year ago, on 3rd May 2023, myself, and others with lived experience of poverty took part in the then First Minister’s Poverty Summit in Edinburgh.  

During that summit - and in follow up meetings with the First Minister, and the Deputy First Minister - we spoke of the many, many difficulties (financial, housing, child care, adult and disability care etc) that the people of Edinburgh and the rest of Scotland are facing on a daily basis.  Most of these issues have been ongoing for many years but have increased dramatically over the last few years as the cost of living has increased but incomes have not.  Now, more than ever, people are struggling to afford the basics (food, heating, clothing) and to keep a roof over their heads. 

The First Minister said that he and his Cabinet Secretaries would work together to deliver real, tangible improvements in the lives of the people of Scotland and claimed that tackling poverty would be his/the Government’s key aim going forward. 

So, one year on, what has changed?  In summary, disappointingly, not very much! 

There has been much “noise” about “tackling child poverty” and John Swinney has said that this would be his core priority.  Action on this issue should, quite rightly, be a key priority, but actions speak louder than words, and those actions are needed sooner rather than later.  But there has been very little or no mention of the many other groups who live in poverty in our city/country (those with disabilities, the elderly, unpaid carers, those experiencing in-work poverty – the list goes on!) – what actions will be taken going forward to help these people? 

Everyone in Scotland, either directly or indirectly, is impacted by poverty, but only a few (the Scottish Government!) have the powers to do something about it! 

Eradicating Poverty should be the single biggest achievement that the Scottish Government (and all the other political parties) is aiming for.  But not next year or the next Parliament – NOW! 

And now we have a new First Minister.  Congratulation on your appointment as First Minister Mr Swinney! 

Will he commit to tackling/eradicating poverty and making it a priority before even more people enter the poverty cycle?  Will he engage with those people who know the REAL issues and effects of poverty?  Will he ensure that every Government Portfolio decision is “poverty proofed”?  These and many more questions need to be answered and only time will tell if our new First Minister has the answers. 

End Poverty Edinburgh, The Poverty Alliance and many other Groups which work tirelessly to raise awareness of and the potential solutions to the issues around poverty and the people it affects, look forward to your call and to working with you to eradicate poverty in our country. 

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