Reducing poverty must be public health priority, MSPs say
Tackling poverty must be considered a public health priority by all levels of government, Holyrood’s health committee has said.
MSPs heard evidence that the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis had exacerbated existing health inequalities.
The committee is calling for action across portfolio areas and through several policy areas to tackle these inequalities as it will have a significant benefit on the nation’s health.
Providing a safe, secure home and planning policy were considered vital.
The majority of the committee also agreed that the UK Government should align benefits and tax credits with inflation and reinstate the uplift to Universal Credit introduced during the pandemic. The two Conservative committee members, Tess White and Sandesh Gulhane, dissented from this recommendation.
Committee convener Gillian Martin said: “Government action to date to tackle health inequalities has not been enough in the face of decades-long, major impacts on household incomes.
“We are calling for urgent action across all levels of government to reduce these stark inequalities which have real life and death consequences.”
MSPs are urging the Scottish Government to provide more targeted support for carers.
They also backed public service reform, following evidence that how services were designed was often exacerbating inequalities rather than reducing them.
A majority on the committee also expressed support for a universal basic income and backed a call for both Scottish and UK Government’s to work together on a pilot. White and Gulhane also dissented from this recommendation.