The Scottish Government must fast-track the new income supplement and boost its budget commitment in response to the Poverty and Inequality Commission’s report published today.
Oxfam Scotland is backing new calls by Scotland’s independent Poverty and Inequality Commission to increase how much the Scottish Government spends to reduce poverty and inequality, including speeding up the new income supplement.
The Poverty and Inequality Commission’s new report, ‘Response to the 2019-20 Budget’, published today, urges ministers to consider raising more revenue through tax in future budgets and says that “if tackling poverty is a priority of the government then this needs to be matched in the spending plans”.
In an alarming conclusion, the Commission found it “very difficult” to identify how much is currently spent on addressing poverty and inequality within the Scottish budget despite these areas being a policy priority for the Scottish Government.
Social security is an area identified by the Commission as being key to tackling poverty and inequality. A new income supplement is due to be introduced in 2022, however the Commission “strongly feels that many families need additional money in their pockets now” and recommends the Scottish Government acts more quickly. The Government is expected to present its plans to Parliament in June.
Figures released by the Scottish Government in March revealed rising levels of poverty and inequality in Scotland. A fifth of people in Scotland live in poverty and income inequality is deepening with the incomes of the top 10 per cent of the population combined over a quarter more than the bottom 40 per cent put together.
Responding to the report, Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said:
“The Scottish budget must be a key lever for tackling poverty and inequality but, right now, the Commission is clear that we’re failing to make it count. If we really want a fairer and more equal country, we need a serious discussion about the way that government raises and spends its money, because the status quo is not working.
“While welcome progress is being made to put dignity at the heart of Scotland’s new social security system, it is clear that plans for a new income supplement in 2022 is simply too far away for families who need cash in their pockets today. Warm words will not make a difference to people who cannot put food on the table.”
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