City Deals Should Prioritise Tackling Poverty, Charity Says

27 June 2017, 07:15


Tackling poverty and inequality should be priorities in developing Scotland's city deals, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has said.

The charity has urged the UK and Scottish governments to work with city leaders and businesses to ensure more people benefit from economic growth.

JRF said progress was crucial with just over a million people in Scotland living in poverty and one in five Scottish employees (441,000) paid below the voluntary living wage.

Analysis by the foundation highlights that the employment rate remains lower than it was before the recession, average wages are £32 lower they were 10 years ago in real terms and one in six employees have no or very low qualifications.

JRF said increased devolution and the development of city region and growth deals provided an opportunity to design a more inclusive economy.

Speaking before a summit on inclusive growth in Glasgow, hosted by JRF, chief executive Campbell Robb said: "Scotland has enjoyed a strong economic record but too many people have not shared in its success - over a million people live in poverty, which is a cost and waste our economy and society cannot afford.

"We need the Scottish Government, city leaders and Westminster to work together to pursue this goal, starting with progress on Scotland's city deals to tackle poverty.

"This agenda has momentum in England following the election of powerful metro mayors and with political and economic uncertainty ahead, Scotland needs inclusive growth now to create a stronger and fairer economy.

"We need growth but everyone needs to the benefit from it.''

Jane Wood, from the Business in the Community charity, said: "To achieve inclusive growth, we must ensure that everyone gets a more equal share of the pie whilst we work to make a bigger one.

"We need to improve productivity, career progression, job quality and equality of access to the labour market.

"Governments, society and business all have their role to play in helping us to change our economy. We must work together.''

Equalities Secretary Angela Constance said: "Growing Scotland's economy in a way that is fair and puts people first is in all of our interests - as a country and a government - which is why inclusive growth is at the heart of our Economic Strategy.

"We have made good progress in recent years, with the joint lowest unemployment rate on record, and we outperform the UK both in female employment and income inequality.

"We fully back the Living Wage - with the aim of least 1,000 accredited Living Wage employers by this autumn - and we are supporting City Region Deals to boost inclusive economic growth in and around our cities, while we are expanding funded childcare to improve young children's outcomes and reduce barriers to parents participating in the economy.

"We are committed to working in partnership with local authorities and the third sector - including the Joseph Rowntree Foundation - as we continue to drive progress and do all we can to boost competitiveness and reduce inequalities.

"However, we remain deeply concerned by the huge threat that Brexit presents to jobs, investment and living standards across Scotland - and we remain intent on securing out future in the single market.''