• Kenneth Gibson

First Minister Launches Poverty and Inequality Commission



First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP has announced a new independent Poverty and Inequality Commission which will be chaired by the director of the RS Macdonald Charitable Trust, Douglas Hamilton.

The aim of the body will be to challenge and hold the SNP Government to account and advise ministers on the development of a delivery plan for the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill.

It will also have an advocacy role, working with businesses and public bodies to reduce the impact of poverty.

The Commission will run for two years, although will “work to a timeline” consistent with 2030 government targets.

Ms Sturgeon said the Commission would carry on the work of her independent poverty advisor Naomi Eisenstadt, who will serve as Mr Hamilton’s deputy, alongside race equality advisor Kaliani Lyle.

A former head of Save the Children in Scotland, Mr Hamilton was Scotland’s commissioner to the UK-wide Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission from 2012-2016.

"The levels of poverty and inequality in Scotland are unacceptable and the job of the Commission will be to do everything we can to bring about change,” he said.

The involvement of people who have direct experience of poverty will be central to the way the Commission works, and I also look forward to engaging experts from a range of sectors to provide the advice and scrutiny required.

Oxfam Scotland, which helped develop the Commission, welcomed the announcement. Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said:

Members of the Social Security Committee deserve credit for their scrutiny of the Child Poverty Bill and we believe this has led to the creation of a more ambitious Poverty and Inequality Commission.

It is clear that further discussions are now needed to ensure strong scrutiny of the child poverty targets whilst retaining all that is good in the SNP Government's Commission.”

Added Kenneth Gibson:

"Poverty and inequality are a blight on Scotland. It wastes lives, talent and holds back Scotland from reaching its full potential as a nation.

"I have no doubt that the Commission will help Scotland win the battle against poverty and make Scotland a more equal, just and prosperous country."

ENDS