Tackling the 'poverty premium'

Abstract

Ekklesia is pleased to be able to endorse, support and make available the Food, Finance, Fuel report produced by church agencies in Scotland, but with UK-wide implications. Its aim is to urge government and civic action to tackle the 'poverty premium' – additional cost for essential goods and services that people living in poverty end up paying as a result of their low incomes.

The Poverty Premium is the additional cost for essential goods and services that people living in poverty end up paying as a result of their low incomes.

It is estimated that the average annual Poverty Premium paid by low-income households is £1,280. Assuming that at least three million households are affected by the Poverty Premium, this amounts to a massive £3.8 billion each year. In combination with stagnant incomes, low wages, falling benefit levels and rising prices, this is an expense that families in poverty cannot afford.

The Food, Finance, Fuel report, authored by Kenny McBride and Sarah Purcell, has come out of the ‘Closing the Gap in Scotland’ initiative: a partnership involving the Iona Community, Church Action on Poverty, Christian Aid, the Church of Scotland and the Scottish Episcopal Church.

The project’s aim has been to analyse and develop responses to poverty and in particular to the premiums paid for food, fuel and finance by those who survive on low incomes. The final report draws on their experiences and recommendations.

The recommendations in this report can be summarised as follows:

1. The principle ‘Nothing about us, without us, is for us’ should be at the heart of all actions that are taken to address this problem.
2. The Scottish Government should develop a plan for tackling the Poverty Premium in partnership with communities.
3. The UK Government should develop a strategy for reducing the Poverty Premium over the lifetime of the next Parliament.
4. Businesses which provide food, fuel or finance should commit to reducing the Poverty Premium.
5. Regulators should adopt a much more robust approach to tackling the Poverty Premium.
6. Local authorities, social landlords and others should explore collective purchasing of food and fuel, district heating systems, and community energy co-operatives.
7. Partners in this project should pilot a ‘community hub’ approach to delivering affordable goods and services in Glasgow.

* The full report can be read and downloaded (*.PDF Adobe Acrobat document) here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/sites/ekklesia.co.uk/files/poverty_premium_rep...