Scottish Affairs Committee Press Notice

Announcement 8 of Session 2007-08

17 December 2007

Government must do more to win fight against poverty, say MPs

The Scottish Affairs Committee today publishes its report Poverty in Scotland, which welcomes recent progress on reducing poverty, but warns that the Government needs to do more to help the unemployed and those on low incomes.

The report finds that those out of work face considerable barriers in the form of inadequate childcare, geographical isolation, employer attitudes or provision for disabilities. Removing these barriers is a considerable task that will require more resources and an even greater effort from the Government.

A key finding of the report is that the Government needs to work co-operatively with the Scottish Executive and local authorities. The MPs say that on present evidence the Government is not doing enough to ‘poverty-proof’ all of its policies and to exploit the available opportunities to integrate services.

More must be done to tackle rural poverty, fuel poverty and debt through better integrated policy streams and more effective cooperative work with stakeholders. Despite good intentions, there is a lack of integration and too much bureaucratic complexity in all these areas.

The Committee expressed concern at the relatively poor progress made on reducing poverty amongst single adults of working age. The report finds that poverty is not just a problem for the unemployed, it also affects those in low paying jobs. Whilst the minimum wage has helped lift many people out of poverty, the MPs were concerned to find a high level of poor quality jobs, with few prospects. A sustainable route out of poverty by following a genuine career path is vital to enable people to progress out of low-paid jobs.

The report concludes that the Government needs to do more to reach those groups who have not yet benefited from the UK’s economic growth.

The Committee’s inquiry also looked at the problem of child poverty. Government action on child poverty affects generations to come. Given the importance of this subject, the MPs decided to produce a separate report on child poverty which will be published after Christmas.

The Chairman of the Scottish Affairs Committee, Mr Mohammad Sarwar MP, said:

“The fight against poverty is not yet won. Whilst our inquiry confirmed that there has been a reduction in poverty, it is imperative that the Government acts now to ensure that this continues.

Poverty is a problem which affects too many people in Scotland, from the very young to the elderly population. We urge the Government to work with the Scottish Executive and with local government in Scotland to formulate a clear and effective strategy to tackle this unacceptable situation.”

Ends.


FURTHER INFORMATION:

Witnesses, government departments and accredited members of the press who wish to pick up a copy of the report from 7 Millbank should contact the Committee by email ([email protected]) or call 020 7219 2173. Otherwise, witnesses' copies of the Report will be posted to them. The full text will be available on the Committee’s website on the day of publication.

Committee Membership is as follows: Mr Mohammad Sarwar MP (Lab, Glasgow Central) (Chairman),  Danny Alexander MP (Lib Dem, Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey), Ms Katy Clark MP (Lab, North Ayrshire and Arran), Mr Ian Davidson MP (Lab/Co-operative, Glasgow South West), Mr Jim Devine MP (Lab, Livingston), Mr David Hamilton MP (Lab, Midlothian), Mr John MacDougall MP (Lab, Glenrothes), Mr Angus MacNeil MP (SNP, Na h-Eileanan An Iar), David Mundell MP (Con, Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale), Mr Charles Walker MP (Con, Broxbourne) and  Mr Ben Wallace MP (Con, Lancaster and Wyre)

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