Scottish Affairs Committee: Poverty in Scotland inquiry Oxfam UK poverty programme response | Poverty

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Oxfam's response to the Scottish Affairs Committee's Poverty in Scotland Inquiry
    Scottish Affairs Committee: Poverty in Scotland Inquiry Oxfam UK Poverty Programme Response    “The worst thing about living in poverty is the way it gives others permission to treat you as if you don’t matter, as if your opinions don’t count, as if you have nothing to contribute. We realize that this doesn’t show up in the statistics, but there is a stigma attached to living in poverty. If you make a policy about us and not with us, then you reinforce that stigma.” Comment by community activist at All Party Parliamentary Group in Poverty meeting, 27 February 2002 1: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1.1: Oxfam GB, globally and domestically, regards poverty as multi-dimensional, going beyond the purely economic to encompass capacity, exclusion, powerlessness and inequity; 1.2: Oxfam’s UK Poverty Programme [UKPP] believes the key features of poverty in Scotland are that:-  Poverty is a persistent, enduring phenomenon whose shape may change over time but whose reach and scale is unabated;  It is characterized by increasing inequality, which reflects an increased visibility of wealth creation and the increased marginalization and silence of those in poverty;  It is a complex phenomenon, with no easy, straightforward solution, evidenced by the very existence of poverty in a developed, wealthy country in the 21 st  century;   Although work has provided a route out of poverty for some women and men, for thousands of others it has not, due to low pay, insecurity, poor terms and conditions, and lack of enforcement of relevant standards;  It has distinct connections with gender, race and age, which are evident both in the opportunities and outcomes experienced by people in poverty;  It has global resonance, with similar poverty causes and effects felt, and interacting, across the world;  Public debate is set in a context of blaming and ‘othering’ women and men who experience poverty, with little sensitivity to either the conditions they face, or the efforts they devote to getting by and to improving their circumstances. 1.3:The UKPP views the policy context in the UK [at both reserved and devolved levels] as it relates to poverty eradication as having the following characteristics:-  The principal route out of poverty for both women and men is seen as work;  The targeting of resources at ‘deprived’ communities is seen as the most effective way to tackle poverty and achieve regeneration;  There is a significant focus on individual behaviour and ‘responsibility’, almost to the exclusion of addressing the structural causes which create and perpetuate poverty in a wealthy country;  There is little focus on the need for, and the enforcement of, human rights, protections and minimum standards and the role of government in securing these;  Crucially, women and men who actually experience poverty are not involved in formulating, implementing or enforcing policy commitments but at are the fringes, largely silenced. 1.4: More broadly, there is a disconnection between ‘anti-poverty’ policies and programmes on the one hand, and economic development policy and investment on the other. For example, the economic development of the river Clyde has led to the visible ‘gentrification’ of particular locations within communities facing long term poverty, without the 1    impact on, and benefits to, those communities being assessed in the same way as other economic indicators. Underpinning this approach are the assumptions that poverty eradication is possible without addressing growing income inequalities or that it will be achieved through increased economic growth, rather than through more redistributive measures. 1.5: Internationally, although Oxfam recognizes that there may be some benefits from globalisation, we believe there can also be losses for those in poor communities, and that globalisation can cause greater inequality and poverty. The impacts of international trends can increasingly be felt in Scotland; increased economic migration, for example, is affecting the labour market, and there are also consequences for workers within increasingly complex, international supply chains. Oxfam believes that the UK government should seek to protect the rights of all workers to secure, sustainable employment as a key route out of poverty. 2: OXFAM’S APPROACH 2.1: Oxfam GB established a UK Poverty Programme [the UKPP] in 1995 in response to a concern that it should begin to address poverty ‘at home’ in a more systematic way. The vision of the UKPP is that women and men who experience poverty in the UK are enabled to exercise their rights to a decent and secure standard of living in what is a rich, industrialized society. Our programme work encompasses a raft of activities across the strategic themes of sustainable livelihoods; humanitarian protection; and equalities and human rights. In Scotland, the programme is similarly grouped around these central strategic themes. 2.2: The foundation of the UKPP approach is based on the experiences and views of women and men who directly experience poverty. The UKPP has built considerable knowledge of their priorities and what they regard to be effective solutions to poverty through a significant programme base across the UK. In particular our partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions in the ‘Get Heard’ project [also part-funded by the European Commission], enabled the direct voice of women and men experiencing poverty to be heard during the preparation of the 2006-08 National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 1 . The UKPP has also developed a wealth of resources on different aspects of poverty, and introduced the UK-wide Social Inclusion Directory 2 . 2.3: Oxfam take a ‘rights-based’ approach to poverty. We regard poverty as multi-dimensional and complex, comprising at least four aspects:-  Not having enough to live on;  Not having enough to build from;  Being excluded from wealth;  Being excluded from the power to change things for the better. Therefore, our definition goes beyond the purely economic to encompass poor capabilities, exclusion, powerlessness and inequity.   2.4: In the early 1980s, Oxfam identified gender inequality as a key barrier to addressing long-term poverty in its international work. This is in response to the fact that globally almost three quarters of those who live in poverty are women and the fact that 1 in 4 women in the UK lives in poverty, with a disproportionate impact on children. This approach reflects the connections between poverty and inequality, and powerlessness and a lack of rights [and enforcement of such], as well unmet material needs. 3: POVERTY IN SCOTLAND 3.1: Poverty levels in the UK remain high, as compared with other Western European countries. There has been a widening of wealth inequalities, caused and compounded by longstanding gender, race and class inequalities. 3.2: The statistics available on poverty in Scotland are not quite complete. In many instances it is not possible to disaggregate statistics by gender and age, and there are currently no central statistics than can be disaggregated by race. Poverty measures such as households below 60% of median income also do not disaggregate relative numbers of men and women. Despite this, the UKPP has undertaken an analysis of SIMD [Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation] data 1  (2006) Get  Heard' National Action Plan on Social Inclusion , Published by Oxfam on behalf of the Social Policy Task Force and the Department for Work and Pensions.  2  http:// H 2    which has informed the strategic direction of the programme in Scotland. This analysis is drawn on in the following paragraphs. 3.3: Almost a million people live in income poverty in Scotland today. Specifically, one quarter [23%] of people in Scotland live below the 60% median income level 3 ; most of the workless households in income poverty are either sick, disabled or lone parents; the rate of income poverty among working-age adults without dependent children is now higher than it was in the mid-1990s [they now constitute more than a third of all those in income poverty]; almost a third of all those in income poverty live in households containing someone in paid work [in half of these cases, the work is part-time]; and children remain more much likely to be living in income poverty than either working-age adults or pensioners.   3.4: What has become more evident in recent years is that Scotland is a land of contrasts, or, more precisely, inequalities:-   ã Some of the most deprived areas in Scotland are close to some of the wealthiest, and this is most evident in the gentrification of areas next to, or even within, poor communities; ã Life expectancy can vary by up to three decades between the most deprived and the most affluent areas, with an average male life expectancy in the most deprived areas at only 65, lower than Bosnia, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, Iran or North Korea;  “A child born in Calton, in the East End of Glasgow, is three times as likely to suffer heart disease, four times as likely to be hospitalised and ten times as likely to grow up in a workless household than a child in the city’s prosperous western suburbs.” The Scotsman, ‘A Nation Still Divided by Poverty and Inequality, 4 January 2006 ã In sharp contrast, if the most privileged areas of Scotland formed a country, it would have the longest life expectancy in the world, outstripping Iceland, Japan and Sweden; ã The rate of deaths from stomach cancer, lung cancer and heart disease in Glasgow and Inverclyde is twice as high as in some other parts of Scotland, and Dundee has twice as many under-age pregnancies as most of the rest of Scotland; ã Sustaining livelihoods through welfare benefits is common in some areas. In Calton, for example, two in five adults claim Incapacity Benefit and in Hamiltonhill 61% of children are in workless households; ã  Almost half of all lone parents [both working and not working] are in income poverty, almost three times the rate for couples with children; ã The poorest households are four times as likely to be without a bank/building society account as those on average incomes; ã  A third of the poorest households lack home contents insurance, compared with virtually no households on above-average incomes. 3.5: Enduring structural inequalities also exist in Scotland. For example:- ã There are significant differences in the levels of employment between men and women in different areas in Scotland, with the largest variations all in rural areas. Almost half [48%] of all people in Scotland in employment are women, only 0.6% of whom are women from black and minority ethnic groups; ã The concentration of men and women in different kinds of job and industries [job segregation] is strongly evident in Scotland. The main employers of women are Public Administration, Education and Health, and Distribution, Restaurants and Hotels. The sectors of the economy in which women are concentrated are also those where low pay is concentrated, as 25% of public sector workers receive less than £6.50 per hour, while around 40% of Distribution, Restaurant and Hotel workers are paid less than £6.50. 4   ã In total, 30% of all workers in Scotland – more than 500 000 people – are paid less than £6.50 per hour. Half of part-time workers are paid less than £6.50 per hour, 80% of whom are women. ã In August 2004 [the last date comparable statistics were available], there were 94,500 Job Seekers Allowance claimants in Scotland. Three quarters [75%] of these claimants were men. Women are the primary claimants of Income Support [not deemed economically active], in a 66:34 ratio with men;  All women on JSA are competing against a pool of men in the age group deemed ‘most employable’ by employers [25-49]. The pool of men in this group is four times larger than the equivalent group of women; ã Glasgow has the highest incidence of disability in Scotland, the lowest levels of employment of disabled people and the highest levels of Incapacity Benefit receipt with over 61,000 [around 13% of the overall population]; ã Over two thirds [67%] of Bangladeshi women are deemed ‘economically inactive’; women from black and minority ethnic communities are employed at half the rate of the wider community; 11% less black and minority ethnic men are deemed economically active than white male; 14% less black and minority ethnic women are deemed economically active than white women. 3  Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2005),  Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion in Scotland    4 3    4: POLICY CONTEXT The following is a brief overview of several key policy areas that are directly relevant to poverty in Scotland and the UKPP’s work. 4.1: REGENERATION 4.1.1: Regeneration is a policy matter devolved from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament. In the eight years since devolution, the Scottish Parliament and Executive have done much to tackle social exclusion and injustice and put in place frameworks to progress this agenda. For example, the Social Justice Strategy 1999 and Milestones, the Closing the Opportunity Gap [CTOG] approach and objectives of 2004; the introduction of the Community Regeneration Fund; the implementation of the Financial Inclusion Plan; and support for ‘deprived’ communities to both undertaken research into local priorities [for example, through the Scottish Communities Action Research Fund] and to engage with local and national policy making processes [for example, the Partnership Representatives Network and ‘Community Voices’] all demonstrate political will to tackle poverty and deprivation in communities across Scotland. Furthermore, this work has been developed in the UK context of the Opportunity for All reports and the UK National Action Plan on Social Inclusion. 5  4.1.2: The wider view of poverty in the CTOG framework encompasses targets on increasing employment and reducing welfare benefit recipient numbers. This has led to the development of a national Employability Framework and the national NEET [‘Not in Education, Employment or Training’] strategy, with consequently a range of local employment and training options within ‘deprived’ areas from UK programmes like New Deal and Scottish Enterprise programmes like Training for Work, to grassroots projects. All of this should help to ensure that women and men experiencing poverty are enabled and empowered to secure “sustained employment”  6 . 4.1.3:The founding principles of the Scottish Parliament; the Scotland Act’s broad definition of equality [Schedule 5] and its incorporation into devolved legislation, including the Local Government [Scotland] Act 2003; the Scottish Executive Equality Strategy; the CoSLA Guidance on Equality in relation to Community Planning and Best Value; and the introduction of a UK Gender Duty have all posed significant opportunities for gender considerations to be fully embedded into the policy framework and operationalisation of regeneration in Scotland. 4.1.4: Despite the raft of national and local policy and resources targeted at regenerating deprived communities in Scotland, there is not an anti-poverty strategy in place which reflects the often very different experiences of women and men of poverty and, specifically, the different ways in which they build and sustain their livelihoods in order to survive and indeed escape from poverty. This is a significant failure, as the structural factors that create and perpetuate poverty will not be addressed adequately. For example, if women experiencing poverty are routinely channeled into stereotypical employment and training opportunities which are low paid, low status and insecure it is highly unlikely that this will “lift them permanently out of poverty” in accordance with the CTOG objectives.  A recent review of Scotland’s Modern Apprenticeship Scheme has shown that the number of participants following non-traditional apprenticeships has actually dropped, significantly undermining the economic gains to be made by addressing skills shortages in traditionally segregated sectors like construction and childcare. Occupational Segregation in Scotland, Progress Report, EOC August 2006   ,   MAKING REGENERATION BETTER The UKPP has developed a programme in Scotland, which directly links two keys poverty themes: sustainable livelihoods and gender. The Programme builds on work undertaken by the UKPP on gender and regeneration across the UK for many years, and is called ‘Making Regeneration Better’. It seeks to address the lack of gender analysis in national and local regeneration policies, programmes and practices, and directly links regeneration and employment strategies and programmes. It aims to highlight the different ways in which women and men experiencing poverty access and secure a decent and sustainable standard of living, in accordance with the CTOG objective to “lift them permanently out of poverty”. This programme currently runs in the Community Planning areas of South Lanarkshire, Dundee and Inverclyde [and is based on previous programme work in Glasgow]. These areas were selected for their high levels of deprivation in terms of SIMD ranking, and targeting in terms of government initiatives like ‘People and Places’ and the Department for Work and Pensions City Pilots. 5  DWP (2006) Working Together: UK National Action Plan on Social Inclusion 2006-08 6 4
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