In a New Year message, Poverty Alliance Director Peter Kelly said: “Sharing, supporting and giving help to others is the foundation of our society. We reflect on it more at this time of year, but in reality, it is a constant all year round.
“From donations to charities, to volunteering at foodbanks and Christmas lunches, people show compassion and care is as strong as ever. That should give us hope and confidence for the future – even after such a hard year when so many people have been pulled into poverty.
“More people are being left without the adequate incomes they need for a secure, dignified life. Food banks and warm banks can never fill the gaping holes left by an unjust economy and a social security system that is not meeting people’s needs. As one of our members said in a film we commissioned for Challenge Poverty Week in October: “We need to stop pulling folks out of the river, and go upstream and work out why they’re falling in.”
“At the Poverty Alliance, alongside our members, we are working towards a society where poverty no longer exists. In 2023 we can take the values of compassion and justice shown by people who fight the effects of poverty and use them to make changes that will help build an economy that works for everyone.
“This requires making real, practical changes such as the introduction of a Minimum Income Guarantee and the delivery of a Social Guarantee where people have access to good public services that meet their needs. It also means building on the progressive tax changes made by the Scottish Government to help support the funding of the services and social security system we need.
“We can make progress on the Scottish Government’s commitment to a Minimum Income Guarantee – an assurance that no one will fall below a set income level that would allow them to live a dignified life.
“A Social Guarantee is about sharing responsibility for making sure everyone has access to life’s essentials. This would ensure everyone has access to everyday necessities like a warm home, nourishing food, education, healthcare, water and electricity, transport, access to the internet, and a safe environment.
“These are big changes, and they cannot happen overnight, but we can begin to take tangible steps towards them now.
“As the cost of living crisis continues next year, we also need action to keep low-income households afloat. We will continue to call for further increases in the Scottish Child Payment, the expansion of free childcare to 50 hours a week, and free bus travel to people on benefits and to everyone under the age of 25. We need to put more money into the local services that we all rely on, but which are a lifeline for people on low incomes.
“All of these things will help to lift people out of poverty and create a Scotland that has wellbeing at its centre. Let’s start building it together.”