Local control is the solution to poverty

Lesley Riddoch answers the main concern of her article (Perspective, 28 October) in its last two sentences when she ascribes to Nordic handling of poverty the local accountability that is a formidable guarantee against it.

In appearing to blame a bit the SNP administration for not providing some long-term plan for poverty prevention and reduction, she perhaps overlooks how the reins of welfare in particular are gripped by Westminster.

Her references to poorer housing estates being unvisited by Scottish Government ministers brings up such well-publicised visitations by Iain Duncan Smith, the Westminster government minister who has been responsible for “visiting” upon such estates extra dollops of misery, and poverty, that such places could have well done without.

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Such token visits are meaningless, and Mr Smith has only too well illustrated this point.

When Lesley Riddoch writes that “communities in the Nordic nations are funded and empowered to fix themselves – a solution that’s hardly been tried among Scotland’s poorest communities”, she touches on a principal reason for not only some acute housing estate deprivation but other similar examples of neglect and impoverishment.

The cure is in Lesley’s statement: more local control, and that begins with entire national control, in Scotland.

Ian Johnstone

Forman Drive


Finally, proposals for achieving the desired “fairer and more equal” society are being presented more openly.

The Nordic countries’ practices are now frequently put forward as models for us, as in Lesley Riddoch’s piece.

Income equality sneaks in as the way forward, and “improves life for everyone”.

So expect redistribution of assets above some undefined thresholds for the “wealthiest” – the devil will be in the detail, as they say, particularly when the “moral hazard” is ignored.

How do the Nordic nations avoid this emotive issue?

Scotland seems to have a lot of surplus cash as it stands, being able to finance building bridges, roads, railways, schools, hospitals and community projects with ease. Should the money have been put into “human capital” rather than into shovel-ready projects, which Ms Riddoch supports?

One wonders how much Alex Salmond might have had to divert to Greenergy if it bought Grangemouth.

Will our future finances permit anywhere near the level of redistribution she proposes? The November White Paper has to come clean.

Joe Darby