Scottish Government urged to give poverty commission more teeth

Written by Tom Freeman on 5 September 2017 in News

Poverty and Inequality Commission meets for first time amid calls to place it on a statutory footing

Poverty and Inequality Commission - First Minister's Office

Leading anti-poverty charities and trade unions have called on the Scottish Government to give its new Poverty and Inequality Commission powers to set policies and hold government to account.

In a joint letter to government and opposition leaders, 37 organisations including Oxfam, Barnardos, SCVO, the STUC and the Church of Scotland said the commission, chaired by Douglas Hamilton, should be put on a statutory footing "in the near future".

The commission, which meets today in Edinburgh for the first time, saw new appointments last week and will run for two years.


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Its purpose is to give advice and scrutinise government budget decisions.

“Each of the commissioners brings a strong personal commitment to playing their part in addressing the unacceptable levels of poverty and inequality in Scotland,” said Hamilton.

However the open letter from the 37 groups calls for the commission to be given the powers to report directly to parliament.

"As the leaders of Scotland’s main political parties, you have all stated your concern about the scale of economic inequality and poverty in Scotland," the letter said.

"It’s now time to urgently scale up Holyrood’s policy action to match the depth of the challenge we face.

"The Poverty and Inequality Commission creates a new platform for radical ideas but it cannot deliver change on its own, or during its first day on the job. It will need civil society organisations, community activists and politicians to help build momentum for change.

"We commit to playing our part and we urge you to do the same by endorsing the Commission’s work and by setting out your party’s policies to achieve a fairer Scotland for the Commission to scrutinise."

Two former independent advisers, former poverty adviser Naomi Eisenstadt and former racial equality adviser Kaliani Lyle sit as deputy chairs on the new body.

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