The hypocrisy of deploring inequality while SNP priorities make it worse – Brian Wilson

The Scottish Government’s focus on policies that help the middle-classes has contributed to the growth of deprivation and inequality, writes Brian Wilson.

Greenock councillor Jim Clocherty said no area wants to be labelled as the most deprived (Picture: John Devlin)

It helps nobody, least of all people who live there, to label their communities “the most deprived in Scotland”.

More important are trends and statistics which might reach their apex in communities named, though deprivation does not fit conveniently into data zones.

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It is a stunning statistic that Scots in deprived areas are four times more likely to die early than at the advent of devolution. Advances made in the first decade have been squandered in the second.

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These are the 16 most deprived areas in Scotland

The impact of UK-wide policies is as important as those emanating from Edinburgh. But then a Scottish Government has an even greater duty to ameliorate them.

That’s what devolution was supposed to offer. Yet the inescapable conclusion is that Holyrood’s powers have not been used to combat inequality but have fostered its expansion.

If addressing symptoms and causes of deprivation is treated as an optional extra, no difference will ever be made. It has to be number one priority with all the attendant implications, or it is not.

That challenges the middle-class sweeteners which have characterised the past decade. For example, if “free university tuition” is number one educational priority, it will be at the expense of communities where 90 per cent are born never to see the inside of a university.

If they persist in slashing council budgets, it is unlikely many effects will be felt in the ten most prosperous zones and certain they will deal further crushing blows to the bottom ten. Not rocket science. There is a long overdue need for a fundamental review of Scottish Government spending. Without it, we never get below the hypocrisy of oozing concern about deprivation and inequality while contributing to their growth.