Leadership candidates to be quizzed on poverty and inequality

The three candidates to be the next leader of the SNP, who will become First Minister, are to face questions about how they will work to end poverty and inequality in Scotland.

The Poverty Alliance and The Robertson Trust have organised an online hustings, seeking the views of Kate Forbes, Ash Regan, and Humza Yousaf as to how they will build a more just and equal Scotland.

The Scottish Government has passed legislation to help drive down child poverty, introduced the Scottish Child Payment and other social security support, and supported the adoption of the real Living Wage by thousands of employers across Scotland.

But Scotland still has increasing levels of poverty, health inequalities are wide and there has been little progress in closing the educational attainment gap.

The event, which will take place on Wednesday 15th of March, will provide an opportunity to ask questions of the leadership candidates about how they will address these and other issues.

Poverty Alliance director Peter Kelly said: “We must make sure that the next First Minister maintains focus on the injustice of poverty and inequality in Scotland, building on positive actions like Scottish Child Payment.

“We look forward to hearing the candidates’ ideas about raising the investment needed to rebuild and renew the public services that we all rely on, and which are a vital lifeline for people on the lowest incomes.

“We also hope to hear how they will strengthen our social security system to lift more people out of poverty, invest in warm homes for everyone, make sure every child is entitled to a nutritious free school meal, and build a just and compassionate Scotland where everyone has the incomes they need for a secure and dignified life.”

Jim McCormick, CEO of The Robertson Trust, said: “With the uneven effects of Covid-19 in Scotland having both exacerbated old inequalities and created new ones, it is imperative that Scotland’s next First Minister deepens the Government’s commitment to solving poverty.

“We know that poverty locks people out of opportunities – but also that it can be solved by enabling them to withstand the tide of insecurity. This requires a new level of commitment. At this timely event, we look forward to hearing candidates’ ideas to design better solutions with others, including employers, housing providers and other funders, to help create a fair and compassionate Scotland where everyone has the opportunity to flourish.

“Poverty is not inevitable – but decisive action on many fronts is needed to reduce the stark risks already being crystalised across Scotland.”

Registration for the hustings is open at povertyalliance.org/hustings.

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