In a Platform piece for The Scotsman, Head of Oxfam Scotland Judith Robertson argues for a Scottish Poverty Commissioner.
Poverty is a creation of society and – if we work together and have the will – we have ample resources to end it. That is especially true in rich, modern Scotland.
But research published this week shows that will is lacking among many politicians.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies says an extra 1.1 million children will be in poverty in the UK by 2020 – a rise to one child in every four.
This alarming prediction, which comes at a time when illegal tax evasion is depriving the UK economy of £5.2 billion a year, is almost entirely due to changes in the tax and social security system put in place by the Coalition government.
It is sickening and immoral that tax evaders get off scot-free whilst the poorest children lose out.
What makes all of this even more incredible is that we have a Child Poverty Act in the UK that makes the eradication of child poverty by 2020 a legal target.
But, of course, it is not only child poverty that is unacceptable. Poverty also blights the lives of nearly one in five working age adults in Scotland.
And while power over tax and social security reside mostly at Westminster, we could do more in Scotland to intervene.
Oxfam Scotland believes a Poverty Commissioner for Scotland would help.
The Commissioner would make sure that new policies were designed to reduce poverty whilst pushing for changes in existing policies that do not have the same effect.
That could include assessing how progressive our local taxation is, or pushing for living wages among public authorities and the companies they contract.
A Commissioner would scrutinise the performance of officials and take direct feedback from communities living day-to-day with the effects of poverty.
They would investigate complaints when public authorities fail to meet the new overarching duty, which we believe should be placed on them, to ensure policies cut poverty and inequality.
Every individual, every child and every family has a right to a decent minimum income that allows them to live with dignity.
We believe a Poverty Commissioner for Scotland would help us get there more quickly.