Oxfam Report Shines Light on Inequality in Scotland

Third Force News (08/10/2015) - Just four wealthy families in Scotland have more cash than the poorest 20% of the population put together.

The richest families living in Scotland are: the Grant-Gordon whisky family (£2.15bn); Mahdi al-Tajir, who owns Highland Spring (£1.67bn); oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood (£1.385bn); and former Harrods owner Mohammed Al-Fayed (£1.3bn). 

Between them these four families have more money that around 1 million less fortunate Scots. 

A report by Oxfam Scotland also shows the country's 14 wealthiest families are better off than the most deprived 30%.

The charity is now calling for more to be done to tackle inequality in Scotland. It says politicians and civil servants are out of touch with "the realities of living in poverty" and should go on a poverty training course.

In the run-up to next year's Holyrood elections, Oxfam is calling on all political parties to "commit themselves to creating a more equal Scotland within a more equal world".

Jamie Livingstone, head of Oxfam Scotland, said: "The Scottish Parliament has a number of powers which it could use to reduce inequality and poverty. We urge all parties to outline clear and robust policies for achieving this goal."

He argued "poverty extends beyond money", saying more must be done to "challenge unequal power dynamics by amplifying the voice of people in poverty within decision-making".

We urge all parties to outline clear and robust policies - Jamie Livingstone

Livingstone added: "We recognise that not all political power rests in Scotland but where the Scottish Parliament has power it should act boldly, and where it does not it should be a strong and progressive advocate for change."

Oxfam is calling on political parties at Holyrood to work towards a number of goals, including building a more equal Scotland, ending hunger in Scotland and increasing international aid.

The report revealed that nearly one in five people in Scotland live with the daily reality of poverty and women are hit hardest.

Oxfam wants the next government to establish a target for reducing economic inequality in Scotland and to create a dedicated inequality commission to identify how devolved powers can be used to achieve this.

While Oxfam welcomed First Minister Nicola's Sturgeon's decision to have a gender-balanced cabinet, the charity said more must be done to give the poor, disabled and ethnic minorities a voice.

The report said: "As part of professional development, cabinet secretaries – as well as Scottish Government directors and deputy directors – should undertake a poverty training course overseen by the poverty and inequality adviser. This should involve meetings with groups and individuals with direct experience of poverty."

To help the poorest people across the world, Oxfam said parties in Scotland should allocate £10 million to the International Development Fund in the first year of the new parliament and should also pass legislation to ensure this level of help is maintained.

An International Emergency Fund should also be set up by the Scottish Government and should receive £1 million a year as "a floor not a ceiling", so that Scotland could respond to humanitarian crises as need dictates.

Oxfam also said Scotland should be promoted as a "nation of sanctuary" for refugees, with the report calling on the next Scottish Government to do all it can, including providing financial support, to help the resettlement of refugees.

Source: Third Force News

Read the recent blog by CSPP Chair, Richard Kerley, calling for serious debate about how poverty and inequality can be tackled in Scotland. 

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