Scottish General Synod: Poverty

20 June 2014

WORK is not the route out of poverty that many continue to claim that it is, the secretary of the Poverty Truth Commission, Martin Johnstone, says. The Commission will present the findings of its two-year investigation into poverty in Scotland, and a targeted list of practical solutions, to an audience of 450 in Glasgow tomorrow.

Its report, backed by the Church of Scotland, and Faith in Community Scotland, will demand an end to the poor employment practices which are trapping many working people in Scotland on very low wages. "Work which is low- paid, inflexible, and where people don't know how many hours they are working from day to day does not help people live more fulfilled lives," Mr Johnstone said. "Too often, we are finding it is having the opposite effect. Through our work with the Poverty Truth Commission, we have regularly come across people who want to work, but cannot find any, alongside others who are required to work such long hours that they have little or no time to spend with their families."

The Commission will be recommending an end to unjust, "zero-hour" contracts, the further implementation of the living wage, and the development of a good employers' charter.

The problems are highlighted in a new study from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which suggests that the predicted rise in the number of Scots in employment will not lead to a corresponding reduction in those suffering poverty. One in seven working-age adults and children could still be living in poverty by the mid-2020s, the study said. Its findings have been set out in the third and final referendum briefing from the New Policy Institute.

The head of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, John Dickie, said: "This report makes it clear that increased employment is . . . not enough to end the shocking level of poverty that blights the lives of too many children [in] Scotland."

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