Friday, 16 March 2012

Local Priorities for Tackling Poverty

Today, I participated in the 3rd Scottish Assembly for Tackling Poverty 2012 at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. This involved taking part as a speaker and panel member debating local approaches to tackling poverty. I referred to the financial crisis of historic proportions and society becoming ever more unequal. Our priority has to be to stop the re-float of the failed economic model. The Coalition Government's Welfare Reforms are impacting on vulnerable groups in society very hard indeed.

In my view, the priorities include:-

i) Children who are most affected when the income of a family is reduced. Local Government has to focus its efforts on maximising income and helping to reduce costs for low income families.

ii) Supporting women has to be taken forward as they are most affected by cuts to jobs, particularly in the public sector. Rather than the pay gap continuing to close as it done in recent times, the Fawcett Society fear we may see a widening pay gap in future.Women use local government services and benefits more than men for many reasons - during pregnancy, as carers, and due to their relative economic inequality and poverty.

iii) Local government has to work with communities to develop regeneration initatives, and provide support and practical help to organisations and individuals working at a local level.  Through neighbourhood based projects, resources can be directed at improving the life chances for disadvantaged individuals and groups and supporting health and wellbeing.  

Local government has to use every lever currently available to us to secure new investment and create and safeguard jobs, in the face of severe cuts.  We have to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, and meet climate change targets.  There are opportunities within the housing, public transport, creative industries, health care, manufacturing and renewable technology sectors to develop training, apprenticeships and jobs.

We have to believe that economic policy does not just value material wealth, but the things which truly make life worth living - our health, our relationships, our human need to co-operate, and create a sense of equality and community.

Useful link, including my comments on video clip:-

Scottish Assembly for Tackling Poverty -

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