Poverty is about people not stats, says Kirk minister

By staff writers
13 May 2011

While the data in a new Scottish Government report is important, it is people not statistics that really count, says the Rev Martin Johnstone.

As the Kirk's Priority Areas Secretary, Mr Johnstone coordinates the Church of Scotland's work in its poorest neighbourhoods across the country - a role he combines with being Chief Executive of Faith in Community Scotland, and working on the implementation of the findings of the pioneering Poverty Truth Commission.

Poverty and income inequality in Scotland 2009/10 was published today (13 May 2011). The publication presents annual estimates of the proportion and number of children, working age adults and pensioners living in low income households in Scotland and the distribution of household income across the nation.

In 2009/10 the proportion of working age adults in relative poverty (before housing costs) increased slightly, and the proportion of pensioners in relative poverty (before housing costs) increased by one percentage point to 17 per cent.

Over the same period, slight decreases were recorded in all three of the indicators used to measure child poverty levels - though campaigners say that the problems faced by children and families are still very serious.

Martin Johnstone told Scotland's Poverty Truth Commission blog(http://povertytruthcommission.blogspot.com/): "With the Scottish elections over, attention is now beginning to return to the key issues that face our country and its communities - not least poverty and inequality."

He continued: "This new data requires careful study and attention. But we should never lose sight of the fact that behind every statistic there are human beings. The lives and voices of those living with poverty on a daily basis need to be at the core of all our attempts to tackle the issues this new publication highlights."

"That is why the watchword of the Poverty Truth Commission has remained 'nothing about us without us is for us'," stressed Mr Johnstone.

Douglas Hamilton, head of Save the Children in Scotland, said the statistics were a "grim reminder" that child poverty is still an issue in Scotland.

He declared: "The statistics show that there are still more than 200,000 children living in poverty in Scotland, which is an insignificantly small decline on last year's figure, and less of a drop than the UK as a whole."

* Scotland's PTC news blog: http://povertytruthcommission.blogspot.com/

* Poverty Truth Commission: http://www.povertytruthcommission.org/

[Ekk/3]

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