Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale has written to Naomi Eisenstadt, Independent Advisor on Poverty and Inequality for the Scottish Government, to confirm that a Scottish Labour government will implement in full her proposals to tackle poverty in Scotland.
Shifting the Curve
I am writing to thank you for your report ‘Shifting the Curve’ – an important intervention at a key time of Scottish devolution.
It makes clear the transformative role the next Scottish Government can play in tackling poverty, reducing inequality and redistributing wealth.
You yourself have seen first-hand the difference government intervention can make to create a fairer country after your work with the last UK Labour Government on Sure Start.
I am pleased to write to you today to confirm that a Scottish Labour Government will sign up to the recommendations of ‘Shifting the Curve’ in full.
A Scottish Labour government would respond to each of your recommendations as follows:
Build on Living Wage Accreditation – a focus on larger employers, and on incentives, would be useful
Scottish Labour will legislate to ensure that the public sector requires contractors and sub-contractors to pay the living wage. We will establish a Living Wage Commission tasked with making the case and winning support for the living wage in the private sector.
Encourage pay ratio disclosure as a way of tackling pay inequality
Scottish Labour’s Living Wage Commission will work with employers to encourage publication of pay ratios.
Ensure childcare commitments focus on quality to improve outcomes, and consider providing a limited number of free hours of childcare for primary school aged children
Scottish Labour will deliver more flexible childcare within the expansion of hours already promised and will detail further childcare measures in our manifesto.
Make family flexible working more explicit within the Business Pledge, and consider whether approaches such as the Timewise programme could promote flexible working in Scotland
Scottish Labour will bring flexible working within the business pledge.
Do more to ensure that people claim the benefits they are entitled to
Scottish Labour will fix local government finance, and increase public spending in real terms. Cuts to local government have led to the loss of welfare advice services exacerbating this problem.
Make effective use of new social security powers but proceed with caution
Scottish Labour propose a number of progressive uses of the new social security powers, in particular doubling maternity grants for new mothers and increasing Carer’s Allowance.
Build more social housing
Scottish Labour will support councils, Housing Associations and Co-operatives to build 60,000 new affordable homes – with at least 45,000 of them available for social rent.
Ensure fuel poverty programmes are focused to support those on low incomes, and do more to tackle the poverty premium in home energy costs
Labour will introduce a Warm Homes Act that will significantly tackle fuel poverty and help those on low incomes to live in warm comfortable homes.
Be bold on local tax reform
Scottish Labour will scrap the unfair council tax and replace it with a fairer system that helps low and middle income families.
Carry out a comprehensive review of the policies and services relevant to the life chances of older children and young adults, with particular emphasis on young people from poorer backgrounds
Scottish Labour will create a new skills, training and economic development agency to provide focus to the disparate range of services around employment and training. It will actively support young people from poorer backgrounds.
Reduce the number of government-supported employment programmes targeting this group of young people and simplify the landscape, to provide a clearer, sharper focus and ensure that the new approach to employer engagement in education is having an impact on improving skills for work of young people
Scottish Labour’s new skills training and economic development agency will do this aiming to make it easier for people to access to help they need to get into work and get on in work.
Do more to tackle occupational segregation
Scottish Labour’s new skills training and economic development agency will do this, with a particular focus on breaking down barriers to women’s involvement in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
Ensure that public service delivery is respectful, person-centred and preserves the dignity of people in poverty: pre-employment and in-service training should include the importance of avoiding stigma and developing understanding of the challenges of living on a very low income
As well as creating the new skills agency, Labour recognises that continuing large scale cuts to services make personal support more difficult and have pledged to increase public spending.
Commence the socio-economic duty in the Equality Act 2010, when powers are available to do so
Scottish Labour will do this as soon as powers allow.
I am pledging to you that an Anti-Poverty Bill will be included in the first Labour Programme for Government to deliver on these recommendations. I’d like to thank you again for this work; it’s a vital intervention that is shaping the debate in this election in using the new powers to tackle the challenges our society faces.
To that effect, and in a hope that we gain a level of of cross party consensus on your findings, I am making this letter public.
Leader of the Scottish Labour Party