Our Economy: Towards a new prosperity

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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
  Our Economy Towards a new prosperity  3 CONTENTS Executive summary 4Introduction 9Flowers in barren ground: the experience of communities Oxfam works with 10The dominant economic model – and why it is failing 11Measuring the new prosperity 12 An ailing society: Glasgow’s story 13Our society: really   regenerating communities 15Whose work, whose wealth? The labour market divide 18Our work, our wealth: closing the labour market divide 22Whose worth? The disconnect between earnings and social value 25Our worth: linking economic reward with social value 25Whose taxation system? Rewarding the rich, punishing the poor 27Our tax system: a tool for achieving equality 28Whose welfare state? The erosion and stigmatisation of social protection 30Our welfare state: solidarity through social protection 31 Whose decisions? How wealth equals inuence 33 Our decisions: equality through power and participation 36Whose community? Barriers to collective assets and ownership in low-income communities 38Our communities: enabling collective ownership 39Whose environment? The unequal causes and effects of climate change 41 Our environment: sharing the benets of a low carbon future 43 Reclaiming our economy 45Our business: creating social returns – the role and responsibilities of the private sector 46Conclusion – how do we get there? 49Our Economy: recommendations for sharing real wealth 51Notes 55References 60  4 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY For too many Scots, the existing economic model is failing. Far from improving their lives, it traps them in a cycle of economic hardship. For them, the signs of economic prosperity are in clear sight, but remain stubbornly out of reach. In modern Scotland, inequalities are both numerous and gaping – in income and wealth; in life chances and lifestyles; and between individuals and communities. Despite decades of economic growth, regeneration and a myriad of anti-poverty policies, the reality for many Scots is a cocktail of high mortality, economic inactivity, mental and physical ill-health, poor educational attainment, and exclusion from the decisions that affect them.The roots of this poverty are historical and structural. In recent decades, the Scottish economy has been transformed from one based on manufacturing to a service-led, supposedly ‘knowledge economy’. Retail and call centres have expanded to (partly) ll the void left by the demise of manufacturing. Service  jobs have replaced skilled trades. Yet these new jobs do not necessarily offer a route out of poverty: many roles simply do not pay enough to live on, far less build for the future. Experiencing poverty in this rich country is also intensely stressful. Stigmatisation through media and political rhetoric adds to individuals’ sense of anguish and isolation. They, not society, nor the economy, are blamed for their poverty. Meanwhile, pressures to consume abound in a culture that elevates status and image above relationships, community contribution or care for the environment.Yet it is  possible to overcome poverty, both in Scotland and across the UK. As the seventh richest country in the world we have adequate resources. 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’. In Scotland, Oxfam works in the same ways as we do overseas – we work with community groups who are addressing disadvantage and to overcome the structural causes of poverty and inequality. This community viewpoint is the starting point for this paper. Our partners undertake extraordinary work. Their ideas and experience have helped frame the structure and content of this report. By learning from their experience we hope to show how allocating resources in a more effective and sustainable way can deliver lasting change. We need to re-position the Scottish economy as the servant of   the people and pursue policies which deliver for   the people. In doing so, we will create a new prosperity with fewer extremes of money and wealth, esteem and status, power and position. At the heart of this new prosperity would rest community-led economies which focus on the quality and distribution of growth – creating livelihoods for the many, not prots for the few. The assets of communities, and the value of individuals, would be utilised and enhanced to promote a sustainable and socially-just future. But this new system must be nurtured. Policy-makers must play a central and driving role as the underwriters of community solutions: supporting communities to develop what they want, in the manner they want; promoting and fostering shared economic activity, decision-making and prosperity; and fostering a wholesale reclamation of the economy with genuine participation for all.
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