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Turning the Tide: Tackling Poverty in Scotland

Despite the devolution of social security powers and the determination of the Scottish Government to ensure that the ethos of the Scottish system differed from the UK counterpart, founded on ideals of dignity, respect and a human rights approach and the particular focus on child poverty through the passing of legislation enshrining reduction targets into law, poverty in Scotland, particularly child poverty, is projected to get worse not better.  What can be done across Scottish Government and society to ensure poverty in Scotland is tackled in line with the targets enshrined in law? 

The Context

With the continuing transition in the delivery of welfare between the DWP and Social Security Scotland and the passing of the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2018, this event will examine what more can be done across the Scottish Government to forge social justice and ensure poverty is tackled more aggressively in Scotland.

Despite some of the progressive changes made in the newly-devolved social security system by the Scottish Government, it is unlikely that the interim statutory target of 18% to achieve by 2023-24 will be met, and in fact child poverty is projected to be at its highest by this date for over 20 years.

The Resolution Foundation identifies the key cause of this as the legacy of UK-wide benefit policy from 2010-onwards – particularly the two-child limit, the benefit value freeze up until 2019 and other benefit-related cuts.

With the devolution of social security in 2016 and the continued transition of benefits between the UK and Scottish Governments, this event will focus on the lessons that can be learned from the unanticipated difficulties experienced in the delivery and implementation of the first wave of benefits. How we can learn from these to ensure the smooth delivery of the more challenging second wave, particularly the new disability assistance benefits, which will affect over 400,000 people in Scotland and cost in excess of £2 billion – nearly 7% of all devolved spending.

Social security is not a magic bullet solution; for instance, housing can have just as big a bearing on poverty than any other policy area and this has been devolved since 1999.  And in turn, poverty is at the root of so many other policy failings, from health inequalities, to the attainment gap to declining life expectancy to social mobility and the acquisition of skills. Furthermore, with poverty costing Scotland £2.9 billion per year in losses to the economy, and resulting in lower educational attainment and poorer health, there are many genuine imperatives on Scottish Government, civic and wider society to tackle it. 

At this event we will analyse a number of devolved policy portfolios across government to illuminate good practice case studies as well as what more can be done to turn the tide and ensure the Scottish Government delivers on its legal obligations to meet the child poverty targets and also to eradicate wider poverty in Scotland.

Key Issues We’ll Discuss

  • The context – drivers of poverty and why it is projected to go in the wrong direction

  • Next steps in implementing the devolved welfare system - what lessons have been learnt to ensure smooth delivery of the colossal disability assistance benefits?

  • Ensuring Social Security Scotland has the right people, with the right skills with the time and space to implement policy

  • Maintenance of the principles of the social security charter at the point of delivery

  • Delivery of strategic digital welfare solutions

  • Tackling poverty across Scottish Government:

    • What next for housing after 50,000 new homes, 35,000 for social rent, delivered by 2021?

  • Implementation of the expansion of free childcare hours

  • What more can be done in terms of Fair Work policy?

  • The NTS/STPR2, social inclusion and tackling poverty

  • Tackling stigma towards poverty in Scotland and reshaping public attitudes towards social security

  • Delivery of world-class child and adolescent mental health services with early intervention and prevention at its heart

  • Tackling poverty and health inequalities

  • Building on the Scottish Child Payment, the Income Supplement and identifying what more can be done


Confirmed Speakers

  • Bill Scott, Chair, Poverty and Inequality Commission 
  • John Dickie, Director, Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland
  • Mhoraig Green, Strategic Policy Lead, Citizen's Advice Scotland
  • Rachel Statham, Economic Analyst, IPPR Scotland 


09:30 Registration and Refreshments

10:25 Welcome and Introduction from the Chair

Bill Scott, Chair, Poverty and Inequality Commission 

Session 1: Drivers Of Poverty And Why Levels Are Going In The Wrong Direction

The Resolution Foundation’s seminal report outlined that far from reaching the statutory target of no more than 18% of children in poverty by 2023-24, the trend is estimated to rise with child poverty estimated to be 29% by then. With an additional 100,000 in poverty if this target is not met, we ask: why is this happening?

10:40 John Dickie, Director, Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland 

11:00 Senior Representative, Pressure Group  

11:20 Interactive Session

This peer-to-peer learning exercise will allow delegates to interact, discuss problems and issues they have come across in both their own professional and personal backgrounds, offer solutions in an open forum and generate further discussion for use in the designated Question and Discussion sessions throughout the remainder of the day.

12:10 Refreshments and Networking

Session 2: Next Steps In Implementing Social Security Reform

  • As illuminated by Audit Scotland, delivery of the first wave of social security benefits was more difficult than anticipated.  In looking ahead to this year until early 2021 - when the disability assistance benefits, affecting over 400,000 people in Scotland and costing in excess of £2 billion per annum, will be rolled out, what lessons can be learned to ensure delivery on the ground is as smooth as possible?
  • Ensuring the Social Security Scotland team have the right people with the right skills, in accordance with the Social Security Charter and have the time and space to implement required changes
  • Maintenance of positive aspirations of the charter being followed through to the point of delivery
  • Navigating the transition to the devolved social security systemBroaching long-term digital solutions

Senior Representative, Public Sector

Senior Representative, Social Security

Mhoraig Green, Strategic Policy Lead, Citizen's Advice Scotland

13:00 Questions and Discussion

13:30 Lunch and Networking

Session 3: Showing Ambition And Rising To The Challenge: What More Government Can Do

The Scottish Government is generally praised for at least indicating a serious ambition to meaningfully tackle poverty through redistributive policies such as the Scottish Child Payment to be unveiled in 2021. But this will only bring child poverty down by 3% once fully rolled-out, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has pointed out that social security cannot do all the heavy lifting. Poverty can only be sustainably tackled through a range of government policy and directives. In this session we present a cross-panel of prominent stakeholders to look at some of the wider factors and policy portfolios affecting poverty in Scotland to discern what more can and ought or ought not to be done.  

Rachel Statham, Economic Analyst, IPPR Scotland 

Senior representative, Housing

Senior representative, Fair Work

Senior representative, Transport

Senior representative, Local Government

Senior representative, Central Government

15:40 Closing Remarks from Chair

Bill Scott, Chair, Poverty and Inequality Commission 

15:45 Close of Event

*Please note the agenda is subject to change

Get In Touch

 or call Adam on 0131 285 1692

If you have an inspiring case study or a project that you think is relevant, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We are always on the lookout for new speakers. 


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Voluntary/charitable organisations with an annual income of less than £1m

Standard Rate
1 place: £245+ VAT | 2+ places: £195+ VAT per place
Public sector organisations and voluntary/charitable organisations with an annual income over £1m

Private Sector Rate
1 place £295+VAT | 2+ places £245+ VAT per place
Commercial organisations e.g. plc, Ltd, LLP

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27 Feb 2020
Central Edinburgh
Reduced Rate
1 place £145+ VAT

Voluntary/charitable organisations with an annual income of less than £1m

Standard Rate
1 place £245+ VAT | 2+ places £195+ VAT per place

Public sector organisations and voluntary/charitable organisations with an annual income over £1m

Private Sector Rate
1 place £295+VAT | 2+ places £245+ VAT per place

Commercial organisations e.g. plc, Ltd, LLP

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