Scotland's Poverty Truth Commission looks at turning learning into action

By staff writers
April 14, 2011

The closing gathering of Scotland’s first Poverty Truth Commission will take place in Glasgow City Chambers on Saturday 16 April 2011 - though without the involvement of the man who pulls the largest purse strings at Westminster.

For the last two years, the Commission has brought together both people who exercise power and influence in Scottish society and people who live every day with the struggle against poverty.

Over the weekend, members of the Commission will explore and discuss what they have learned together and what they believe needs to happen in order to address issues of poverty and marginalisation in Scottish society.

"Nothing about us without us if for us" has been the watchword for the Commission's work so far, and is set to provide the benchmark for future action.

But hopes that chancellor George Osborne or a senior government representative would engage directly with the Poverty Truth Commission - and particularly with people living in poverty themselves - have been dashed.

Members of the Commission wrote a series of personal letters to Mr Osborne at the end of 2010.

One of the Church of Scotland’s most senior ministers, the Rev Ian Galloway, convener of the Kirk’s Church and Society Council, also called for the Chancellor to follow the example of Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith, who revised his own views on poverty after visiting Easterhouse in Glasgow - though the reforms he has since promulgated in government have sparked some controversy.

"It took four months and three letters before the chancellor finally said 'no', but indicated he would pass the details on to Justine Greening (Conservative MP for Putney, Roehampton and Southfields)", a PCT representative told Ekklesia. "Since then we have heard nothing."

The Poverty Truth Commission is sponsored by the Church of Scotland Priority Areas and Faith in Community Scotland in cooperation with voluntary and grassroots organisations throughout the country. It has also been backed by the Catholic Church and has related to statutory bodies, including the police, and politicians.

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