Azeem Ibrahim: An all-inclusive approach to social exclusion
SINCE 1999, a devolved Scottish Government has shown commitment to tackling the problems of social exclusion – notably poverty, urban and rural deprivation and the problems of marginalised communities.
However, results have been mixed and outcomes are constrained at present by the global recession and by Westminster taxation and redistribution policies. Recognising that solutions lie within the existing decision-making structures, we acknowledge that if Scotland is to move ahead towards the creation of a fair and productive society, the causes of poverty must be tackled instead of trying to ameliorate poverty’s results. This is what we at the Scotland Institute hope to promote with the publication of our first in-depth report, Social Exclusion in Scotland.
The report, by Dr Roger Cook, brings together current policies and analyses with the objective of focusing on solutions for the future. While Scotland has been successful in reducing the number of pensioners in poverty, for example, it still lags behind European norms of income equality, education and health outcomes. It is clear there is no one solution to poverty, and child poverty in particular, but a combination of policy reforms is needed including access to adequately paid work to avoid “in-work-poverty”. The provision of services to low or no-income families such as affordable and excellent child care would enable more households to work and help end the cycle of persistent poverty.
The Scotland Institute will continue to explore innovative solutions to Scotland’s immediate problems – youth unemployment being of special interest – and will continue to invite experts to contribute to future reports similar to Social Exclusion in Scotland. To bring about change is never easy, but at this time in Scotland’s history, when change is being discussed at all levels, we feel it is imperative to include in the discussion Scotland’s people at all levels, beginning with those suffering from exclusion right now.
• Dr Azeem Ibrahim is the Executive Chairman of the Scotland Institute
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