Glasgow City Council leader calls on government to divert cash to poorest communities
The leader of Glasgow City Council has called on the Scottish Government to make radical funding changes to fight poverty.
Susan Aitken has told ministers that deprivation not only requires more money, but they must also divert resources from Scotland’s most affluent areas to those in the poorest areas.
Child poverty rates in Scotland’s largest council area are the highest in the country – almost one-third of young people are directly impacted. While the six worst-off local authorities are estimated to have double the child poverty rates of the six most affluent.
Aitken wrote to ministers urging them to engage in talks with councils about how to prioritise tackling deprivation. She hopes that other local authority leaders would consider her proposed funding shake-up.
She said: “The way we allocate local government resources doesn’t do enough – and arguably never has done enough – to prioritise tackling poverty.
“In Glasgow, we have focused on supporting our most vulnerable children and families and are proud of the difference policies like the Holiday Food Programme or the wraparound support provided by the Glasgow Helps service has made.
“But the reality is we often have to divert resources away from other core council services to fund these crisis interventions, a cost other local authorities with much lower levels of poverty don’t have to bear.
“Acknowledging geographical inequality must mean directing funding that is supposed to be focused on addressing poverty to the people and the communities that need it most. Inevitably, that means more affluent local authorities receiving less.”
Aitken added: “If we don’t grasp this nettle, we risk losing the progress Scotland has made on addressing the consequences of generational poverty,” she said.
“Nobody is saying the more affluent communities in Scotland don’t have challenges – but every community will benefit in the long run if we can start to reduce the cost of mitigating the social consequences of poverty.
“I don’t just want to see changes in how funds are allocated. I also want to see more money go to local government as a whole.
“But right now, in the face of mounting hardships in our hardest-pressed communities, it’s vital that the local authorities working to tackle the highest levels of child poverty and all of its consequences receive more assistance than they have in the past.”