Political leaders must end the postcode lottery nightmare for those living in Scotland’s poorest communities, say anti-poverty campaigners in an 'alternative manifesto'.
Scotland’s church and civic-backed Poverty Truth Commission, co-chaired by Lord Wallace of Tankerness, claims that people are being denied basic services such as loans and employment opportunities because of where they live.
The intervention comes amid concerns that the media and politicians are focusing too much on personalities and not enough on the substance of issues that hit people daily, especially the poorer and more vulnerable members of society, and those outside London and south-east England.
The situation in Scotland is dramatic, say anti-poverty advocates. Statistics from 2008 show that the difference in lifespan between affluent and deprived areas of Glasgow can be as much as 20 years.
In their hard-hitting 'alternative election manifesto', members of the Poverty Truth Commission target astronomical interest rates for the poor, as well as calling for action on the roots of addiction and long-term violence.
Jim Wallace, co-chair of the Commission, declared: “This Manifesto not only highlights the issues of concern to Scotland’s poorest communities, it demands a new way of working."
He continued: ”My engagement with the Poverty Truth Commission has convinced me that we are more likely to identify solutions to some deep-seated problems if politicians and officials involve in the process of policy-making those who experience the reality of poverty in their daily lives."
“That is a real challenge to the next government, whatever its political complexion,” said Wallace.
The Commission was set up in March 2009 with the involvement of Church of Scotland officials, bringing together people with a direct experience of poverty and some of Scotland’s senior civic leaders.
Members firmly believe the scourge of poverty will never be adequately addressed unless those in poverty are directly involved in shaping and delivering a better future for everyone.