Challenge Poverty Week in the Western Isles

nhs-Hebrides-TodayChallenge Poverty Week runs from October 16-22, and it is now in its fourth year.  It is an opportunity for you to raise your voice against poverty and show what is being done to tackle poverty across Scotland.


Almost one million people in Scotland are currently living in poverty, 220,000 of them are children and most are in a household where someone works.  In a rich country like ours this is unnecessary and unacceptable.


The good news is that poverty is not inevitable.  There are things that we can do.  The Scottish Parliament has new powers in the pipeline, including the power to top up reserved benefits and the power to create new benefits.  These are meaningful tools which could be used to make a real difference to the lives of people on low incomes.


Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “Almost one million people live in poverty in Scotland, including 220,000 children.  Most of these people are in households where someone works.


“The causes of poverty are complex but at the heart of it are low incomes – both for those in and out of work.


“Years of welfare reform have meant that benefit rates are now at a level that trap people in poverty, and leave people unable to afford a decent standard of living. Too many people are also in low paid, insecure and poor quality work meaning that simply finding a job is no longer a route out of poverty.


“However, poverty is not inevitable and we can make a difference. Employers who pay the Living Wage and ensure their staff have enough to live on are contributing to the fight against poverty.


“The Scottish Government will soon have the power to top up reserved benefits and create new benefits.


“These are substantial powers that could make a real difference to the lives of people on low incomes, and they should be used.


“We are looking forward to the series of events being organised across Scotland this week to highlight anti-poverty work, and we know that by working together we can take one step closer to the Scotland we want to live in.”


Angus McCormack, Chair of the Western Isles Poverty Action Group stated: “Here in the Outer Hebrides the Community Planning Partnership is actively tackling poverty at all levels, but is concentrating its resources on children and the elderly.  All agencies support young mums from before birth to ensure that the child is well provided for and living in a warm home.  Ensuring maximum benefits take-up, where appropriate, is crucial.  The elderly living in their own homes present a real challenge given that most will be living in fuel poverty.  Reduction in fuel prices is key to reducing fuel poverty and an initiative to be announced next month may assist in this.  In the meantime slow but steady progress is being made with whole house insulation measures. We are hoping that new national initiatives will pay dividends in time.”

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