For too many Scots, the existing economic model is failing. Far from improving their lives, it traps them in a cycle of economic hardship. Yet it is possible to overcome poverty, both in Scotland and across the UK - many of the solutions already exist, hidden within the very communities hit hardest by an economic model that worships at the altar of 'economic growth'. The extraordinary work of our partners in Scotland has helped frame this report, where we hope to show how allocating resources in a more effective and sustainable way can deliver lasting change. In this paper we argue that the Scottish economy must pursue policies which deliver for the people, and policy-makers must play a central and driving role as underwriters of community solutions.
Some of our recommendations include:
- Build on the National Performance Framework and the Oxfam Humankind Index to create a better way of measuring our collective prosperity.
- Create a Poverty Commissioner to ensure spending decisions are poverty proofed and to support communities to challenge Government policies and private sector actions that do not contribute to socio-economic equality.
- Employers in the public and private sectors should pay a living wage.
- Tax havens, offshore earnings and loopholes which allow avoidance, should be pursued and closed. Business support, corporate social responsibility awards and government plaudits should be contingent on companies meeting their tax obligations.
- A Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA) to social protection should be pursued. This would recognise complex barriers to work, gender differences and caring responsibilities as well as rewarding individuals' range of skills and contributions (including activities that deliver social benefit but are currently insufficiently valued by the market).
- Funding is required to make it easier for deprived communities to own assets for local benefit. As part of a socio-economic duty, council staff should support deprived communities prepare for ownership, with upfront grants enabling communities to assess the merits of an opportunity.