‘Deeds, not words’ needed to tackle poverty through inclusive economic growth
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“Deeds, not words” are needed if poverty in Scotland is to be reduced through inclusive economic growth, the Poverty and Inequality Commission has said.
Inclusive growth is an economic policy that aims to grow the economy in a way that benefits the poorest in society and helps to reduce inequality.
Research carried out for the commission by IPPR Scotland with Mark Diffley Consultancy and Research found there was widespread support for the idea of inclusive growth, but what is meant by the term and how it could be delivered was “often blurry and ill-defined”.
Despite commitment to the idea, the researchers found “limited evidence that inclusive growth is making a tangible difference to people’s lives” four years after the policy was introduced.
In response to the research, the commission has made three recommendations that it says will bring about change.
It has called on the Scottish Government to be clear about what inclusive growth is, particularly that the aim the aim is to reduce inequality, to be clearer about how it will measure progress and what success or failure looks like.
Inclusive growth should also be embedded into flagship programmes such as city deals and the Scottish national investment bank and should be at the heart of all economic policy such as sector growth strategies, trade, investment and transport plans, business support and procurement, it said.
Commission chair Douglas Hamilton said: “Inclusive growth – that is growth that benefits all and unlocks people from poverty – is essential at a time when we face a rising tide of in-work poverty.
“We welcome the Scottish Government’s adoption of inclusive growth, but the commission wanted to understand whether it has marked a fundamental shift in the way policies are prioritised, made and implemented.
“What we found is that despite a high level of commitment to make this new economic agenda work, very little has changed.
“There is still a lack of clarity around what inclusive growth means, making it all things to all people.
“As a result, it appears to be more of a concept than an approach that results in real change in people’s lives.
“National strategies aren’t being easily understood or translated at a local level, further stifling the adoption of inclusive approaches to growth.
“We see a lot of good will towards this agenda, now it needs to be translated into action.”
Rachel Statham, economic analyst at IPPR Scotland, added: “We know that a fairer economy is a stronger economy.
“But for Scotland to realise its ambitions to deliver inclusive growth – that narrows inequalities and builds fairness into our economy – then we need to see stronger action from government.
“To deliver a fairer and stronger economy in Scotland, we need a clearer definition of what we mean by inclusive growth, we need a better evaluation of inclusive growth policy in practice, and we must look at how new and existing powers over tax and the wider economy can make a difference.
“We need to match ambitious words with equally ambitious action.”