While we’re all so interested in poverty

While we’re all so interested in poverty:

Why is there no word of the numerous attempts, against the tide of Tory austerity ideology, by the Scottish Government to do something to make life a bit better for the most vulnerable?

The UN and researchers across the UK have:

In 2019, the United Nations report on ‘Workhouse Britain’ noted that Scotland was spending ‘£125 million per year to protect people from the worst impacts of austerity and unlike the UK Government provided funds for emergencies and hardships.

In 2017, researchers in Wales who studied how 7 ‘small countries’ – Wales, Scotland, New Zealand, Denmark, Quebec, Netherlands and Austria were ‘weathering the storm’ of increasing demand and reducing budgets, by developing a ‘golden thread’ linking more open government and participation in improving services. They wrote: A review of a small country’s approaches to public policy reform in response to economic, demographic and other pressures found that only in Scotland could this ‘golden thread’ be so clearly discerned

Just on trying to ensure the poor got a living income, here at the Scottish Government’s initiatives in the last few years:

  • In 2013, the UK Government limited Housing Benefit and the housing element of Universal Credit for working-age council or housing association tenants if they were considered to be under-occupying their homes. This became known as the ‘bedroom tax’ and the Scottish Government fully mitigated it, spending £52 million per year. [1]
  • Beginning only this month, the Scottish Child Payment means that low-income families with a child under six will be able to apply for £10 per child, per week – equivalent to £520 per year. There are no limits on the number of eligible children supported by Scottish Child Payment.[2]
  • Scotland has the highest proportion of employees being paid at least the real Living Wage of all four UK nations – 80.6%, ahead of England 77.1%, Wales 74.0% and NI 72.3% and the UK 77.2%.[3]
  • Scotland has the smallest gap between median pay for the disabled and non-disabled. This is not the result of median wages for the non-disabled in Scotland being particularly low as Scotland has the highest median pay outside of the South of England and London.[4]
  • Only Scotland and Wales pay the living wage to all NHS employees and Scotland was first to pay the living wage to all public-sector employees. Recent consultation on taxation suggests that this group will also be protected from any tax increases.[5]
  • Scottish care workers have been receiving the Living Wage of £8.45 per hour since October 2016 and will now [unlike in rUK] receive the same rate for all ‘sleepover hours worked. This will make a big difference to around 40 000 workers. Most are women.[6]
  • Also, in 2019, the funeral support payment was introduced meeting burial or cremation costs with a flat rate £700. [8]

[1] https://www.gov.scot/policies/social-security/support-with-housing-costs/#:~:text=The%20bedroom%20tax,-From%20April%202013&text=This%20is%20widely%20known%20as,two%20or%20more%20additional%20bedrooms

[2] https://www.gov.scot/policies/social-security/scottish-child-payment/

[3] https://economicactionplan.mygov.scot/fair-work/real-living-wage/

[4] https://www.gov.scot/publications/fairer-scotland-disabled-people-employment-action-plan-progress-report/

[5] Make the NHS a living wage employer says UNISON

https://news.gov.scot/news/pay-boost-for-carers

[7] https://undocs.org/A/HRC/41/39/Add.1

[8] https://www.holyrood.com/articles/news/new-scottish-funeral-benefit-launches-next-week

7 thoughts on “While we’re all so interested in poverty

  1. We are all so interest in poverty because the Westminster Gov is starving and killing people. Wasting and misappropriating public monies, An absolute disgrace. Things have to change.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Poverty ? Problem solved ! Our charismatic millionaire Labour ( the working man’s party ) leader has identified how to solve it .

    Just vote him and his party in to power in May and he will divulge the secret . It worked for him and his family so why not YOU !

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yup, send in your weans last pennies to support “honest, unbiased journalism”.

    Post your money orders to:-
    C/O
    Britnat Mejah
    Boris Tower,
    TheseIslands Crescent,
    Tax Free Zone.
    Virg Isles Corp.
    F.Y.E.O.

    Like

    1. gavinochiltree

      And may i add my pennies worth
      What sickens me to the core is Pudsey Bear& Comic relief etc.
      Whereby the Tax dodging stars such as G.Barlow etc stand their with their false
      Platitudes and coax those who can ill afford it to donate
      Explain to me please how in a Land of Plenty (Scotland) with all its talents and natural resources as to how we are awash with Food Banks as the poor queue around the block in order to feed their Bairns
      And how so 46 Billion barrels of oil later.
      Utter and complete shame on all who have aided and abetted this and continue to campaign for the Status Quo
      And should a place in Hell exist
      Then a place in it is reserved for you

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Poverty rates in Scotland (20% of people) are slightly lower than in the rest of the UK and, according to JRF, the sole reason for this is the larger numbers of affordable housing in Scotland.

    As John says, it is well to acknowledge what the SG does to mitigate the effects of poverty in Scotland.The fundamental drivers of poverty in Scotland are the socioeconomic policies of the UK government. Scotland will not be able to do anything to affect the fundamental causes of poverty in Scotland until it becomes independent. Some are more keen to have independence now than others.Sturgeon and Swinney are not in a hurry.

    The political system that the present SG would pursue in an independent Scotland is neoliberal, similar in principle to the present UK government.That certainly is implicit in the Growth Commission Report. George Kerevan, former SNP MP and now member of Alba, has a piece on this subject in The National.

    Richard Murphy at Tax Research UK has something to say about it.

    “I remained vaguely optimistic until I reached page 47.Then I knew the SNP has a disaster on its hands and that if was to become independent on the basis of this report the last thing that the people of Scotland would enjoy would be growth.”

    https://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2018/05/25/the-scottish-growth-commission-gets-its-economics-very-badly-wrong/

    It is against this context that John’s piece should be read. Has anyone in the SNP heard anything to suggest that the Growth Commission Report is to be binned? I know from my contacts with the party that it is said to be unpopular with the membership.

    The JRF takes the view that one way Scotland can tackle child poverty is by providing affordable housing. While that is a realistic aim one should bear in mind what Audit Scotland says.

    “18. While councils and RSLs have welcomed the investment in housing as it can help to meet shared local priorities, there is a disconnect between the national target and local assessments of need. Councils are responsible for assessing housing need in their area through a strategic planning process (Exhibit 3, page 14). The Scottish Government does not collate information from councils’ local assessments of need and there are some difficulties in doing so. For example, not all assessments cover the same time period and some councils use different data sources based on local circumstances. There is no evidence available to show that councils’ local assessments of need informed the 50,000 affordable housing target and 35,000 social rent target. The Infrastructure Commission for Scotland identified a need for greater coherence at both regional and national levels towards the assessment of housing needs and demands.6 This may help to make a better connection with any future nationally set targets.

    19. The disconnect between the national target and local assessments of need, means that it is not possible to determine whether the Scottish Government’s investment is targeted most effectively to deliver new affordable homes of the right types in the right locations. This limits the judgements that can be made on the overall impact of the investment on national housing need.”

    The National Living Wage is also a tool to help mitigate poverty. It is rather limited in scope. In Scotland there are 2.656 million people employed. The National Living Wage is paid to 45,600 people. The hourly rate is now £9.50 per hour, decided by Resolution Foundation.That rate is 78 pence more than the statutory minimum rate.

    When the Wages Councils existed an employer could expect an inspector to check if the statutory minimum was being paid once every 13 years. Now there is no inspection cycle. Now an employee needs to contact HMRC to complain if s/he is not being paid the minimum. Boohoo in Leicester is a good example of how the poor are exploited.

    Scotland does not control employment law and cannot outlaw zero hours contracts. The effect of the pandemic has made the situation of those in the gig economy in Scotland much worse. The National has this to say.

    “SCOTLAND’S gig economy workers have been the hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis across the UK, according to new research.

    The average gig economy worker’s salary dropped by 9% in lockdown, but those in Scotland have seen a drop of 15%.

    The research, commissioned by banking service Monese and carried out by YouGov, includes data collected from 1510 gig economy workers from April 23-29, 2020.

    The results show the precarious financial situations of those working in the gig economy, with one in four (25%) having no savings at all to fall back on.

    Almost three in 10 (27%) said they only have enough savings to survive for one month or less if out of work, with one in ten (12%) only surviving for up to 2 weeks.”

    And from the IPPR.

    “Some of Scotland’s lowest paying sectors are those likely to be exposed to the most serious disruption over the coming months. In Scotland’s large hospitality and tourism industry (shown here as accommodation and food services), 83 per cent of workers are likely to be exposed to job losses and furlough (see figure 2). This is particularly concerning giving the prevalence of insecurity in these sectors going into this crisis, resulting from a combination of zero hours contracts, agency work and low pay. Accommodation and food services has the lowest average pay of any major sector in Scotland, with over 60 per cent of workers on low pay (less than two thirds of median weekly pay in Scotland – or £313.30). For these workers, a 20 per cent pay cut will not be easily absorbed. Analysis for the Fraser of Allander Institute has shown that most people employed in this sector are single adults, living alone. Without a financial buffer provided by another earner in the household, large portions of these workers could find themselves struggling to pay essential bills over the coming months, or being swept into poverty.”

    Salmond was/is neoliberal as leader. Alba looks to be attracting more left of centre SNP people to its ranks. It describes itself as embracing social democracy which is certainly not the stance of the current SG.

    How long will Ms Sturgeon stay as FM? She has tied herself to the fate of Lesley Evans by repeating her confidence in the Perm Sec. If Ms Evans resigns after a court case, Sturgeon may also go. Independence is a matter of urgency.

    Like

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