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Now is the Time – Challenge Poverty Week 2021

Ashley McLean from the Poverty Alliance lays out the ways organisations can get involved and make an impact on loosening the grip of poverty on the lives of children and families in Scotland.

In a just and fair Scotland, all of us could afford to live a decent life. We would have work that pays adequate wages, public services that meet our needs, and a social security system that is there to catch us when we’re struggling to make ends meet.

But the way our economy is designed means that, for too many of us, this is not the reality. One in four children in Scotland are currently living in the grip of poverty. Of these, 68% live in households where at least one person works. The rising costs of housing, transport and childcare coupled with inadequate incomes are sweeping families into poverty and trapping them there.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. By taking different decisions about our economy we know that poverty can, and must, be solved.

This year’s Challenge Poverty Week theme is ‘Now is the Time’ because now, more than ever, all levels of government can and must use every power at their disposal to stem the rising tide of poverty. While many of the drivers of poverty originate from decisions made by the UK Government - there is a significant number of actions that can be taken here in Scotland to loosen the grip of poverty on people’s lives. As part of Challenge Poverty Week 2021 (4-10 October), we are therefore calling on the Scottish Government to:

  • Begin to take steps towards a Minimum Income Guarantee, starting with the immediate doubling of the Scottish Child Payment which will help to lift around 50,000 children out of poverty [1].
  • Incentivise employers to provide Fair Work and ensure that jobs pay at least a real Living Wage, provide at least a four-week shift notice, a guaranteed minimum of 16 hours, and ensure that employability services are flexible and meet the needs of groups facing extra barriers to the labour market.
  • Embed mental health workers and Community Link Workers in all GPs in Scotland and increase investment into community-based mental health services.
  • Double investment in Scottish fuel poverty programmes, commit to delivering 20-minute neighbourhoods and prioritise and scale-up funding in community-led responses to climate change.
  • Make our public services work for everyone by funding 50 hours of childcare per week for every child under the age of 16, providing free bus travel for all people under 25 and on low-income benefits, providing free, good quality broadband to all low-income households and redesigning the housing system to make it fit for residents and the environment.
  • Empower our communities by giving people greater control over how money is invested in their community, at least double investment for local authorities to support the work of lifeline community organisations, and fund third sector organisations on a three-year basis.

We are delighted to see the hundreds of organisations from across Scotland already begin to get involved and collectively call on the Scottish Government – and all other levels of government – to act now. Taking part in Challenge Poverty Week is rewarding and impactful. Whatever type of organisation you are, there are lots of ways you can get involved.

We are still asking that organisations stick to getting involved virtually, which can be done through promoting our messaging on social media, hosting online discussions, and emailing your MSP.

Click here to read more about how you can get involved. Our website contains several resources including toolkits, templates and more.

To get involved in Challenge Poverty Week or to find out more, click here to email our Campaigns officer, Suzi Murning at

To find out more about our policy asks, click here to email our Policy and Parliamentary Officer, Ashley Mclean at

Ashley Mclean is the Policy and Parliamentary Officer at The Poverty Alliance

[1] Click here to read the report on prioritising the Minimum Income Guarantee

About the author

Ashley McLean is Policy and Parliamentary Officer for the Poverty Alliance

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