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Policy commitments needed to solve poverty

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Poverty Alliance, mnaifesto, two-child limit, sanctions, Real Living Wage, tackle poverty, Righting the Wrongs, GE19, poverty in Scotland‘It is outrageous that so many people have been swept into poverty in recent years.’

Of the 5.438 million people in Scotland over 1 million– including almost 1 in 4 children – are now living in the grip of poverty.

For too many people in communities across the country – and particularly for women, disabled people and black and minority ethnic groups – the economy is not working and is trapping them in poverty.

Poverty campaigners have this week published their demands for the next UK Government, with calls for a range of policy commitments to help stem the rising tide of poverty.

Poverty Alliance is Scotland’s anti-poverty network. It brings together campaigners and communities to rebalance the distribution of power and resources.

In ‘Righting the wrongs: A manifesto to tackle poverty‘, the Poverty Alliance urges the next UK Government to put solving poverty at the heart of all that it does.

This includes creating a more compassionate social security system, building a labour market that works for everyone, and protecting people on low incomes from the effects of Brexit.

Key asks in this manifesto include:

Removing the two-child limit;

Raising social security benefits, including increasing child benefit by at least £5 per child per week;

Introducing UK-wide poverty reduction targets and a UK anti-poverty strategy;

Undertaking a legally binding commitment to maintaining and strengthening workers’ rights post-Brexit;

Ending the five-week wait for Universal Credit;

Ending the sanctions regime; and

Tackling in-work poverty, by boosting workers’ wages and taking action on insecure work.

The decision to implement the two-child limit has removed support from many of the families across the country who need it most – especially lone parent families – and has locked many into poverty.

It is a policy that has had a particular impact on women’s poverty and – with its associated ‘rape clause’ – has violated women’s dignity and privacy.

This cannot be the kind of society we wish to be, so if we are serious about protecting the 9,000 families in Scotland affected by the policy, and the many more across the rest of the UK, then the two-child limit must be removed.

The Real Living Wage, which is based on the real cost of living, is good for workers, for employers and for the economy.

The next UK Government needs to take this into account and commit to boosting workers’ wages – including those of young workers – by increasing the National Living Wage in line with a set adequacy standard that keeps pace with the cost of living and average incomes.

In addition, there is a need for us all to be clear about the possible impact of Brexit on levels of poverty in the UK. Extensive impact assessments on the consequences of different Brexit scenarios on levels of poverty must be undertaken, with these impact assessments being made publicly available.

With over one million people – including almost one in four children – living in the grip of poverty in Scotland, the manifesto seeks to not only influence the actions of the next UK Government but also ensure that poverty is one of the key election issues in the lead-up to the 12 December election.

Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “It is outrageous that so many people have been swept into poverty in recent years, and figures released last week show that record numbers of people are now using foodbanks. This simply cannot go on.

“The election gives us the opportunity to look at what we can do to address this national scandal, and to place solving poverty firmly at the heart of the next government’s agenda.

“Communities across Scotland need our political parties to listen to our calls, and to commit themselves to loosening the grip of poverty on people’s lives.”

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