Shona Robison to head new SNP poverty commission

Shona Robison has been appointed convener of a new SNP commission on social justice.
Shona Robison has been appointed convener of a new SNP commission on social justice.
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Scotland's former health secretary Shona Robison, who quit after a series of NHS controversies, is set to lead a new SNP commission which will aim to show how independence can tackle poverty and create a fairer society.

The announcement of the Dundee MSP as convener of the new body comes six months after Nicola Sturgeon said the Commission would be established.

The First Minister told her party's Spring conference that a Social Justice and Fairness Commission would look at how independence could reduce poverty and inequality in Scotland, as it would show how the proceeds of economic growth would be shared "much more fairly".

The announcement was seen as a move to placate discontented party members unhappy with the recommendations of the Growth Commission, an economic vision which called for tight spending controls for the early days of a new Scottish state.

The new Commission is now set to meet for the first time before the SNP Autumn conference kicks off in Aberdeen this Sunday.

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It will convene just days after the poverty charity, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said that more radical policies were needed from the Scottish Government if it was to meet its target to reduce child poverty.

Members include the SNP’s Westminster Social Justice spokesperson Neil Gray MP, former Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Harry Burns, activist and campaigner Chelsea Cameron and former Convener of the Scottish Women’s Budget Group Dr Angela O’Hagan.

Ms Robison, a close friend of Nicola Sturgeon, quit as Health Secretary last year after nearly four years in the post after she failed to meet a promise to end delayed discharges from hospitals and oversaw increasing waiting list numbers. She was replaced by Jeane Freeman.

READ MORE: Shona Robison leaves Health Secretary job

Party sources said the Commission would report in time to inform a second independence referendum should one be held in 2020.

Ms Robison said: “Independence is fundamentally about creating a better Scotland.

"The Social Justice and Fairness Commission will explore in detail how we can use the powers of independence to end poverty, tackle inequality and improve the lives of families across Scotland. That’s a crucial task – both for persuading people of the case for independence, and for building a better country once we achieve it.

“The members of the Commission represent a broad base of expertise and experience, and over the next few months we will be working hard to harness the research and expertise available, as well as lived experience, to deliver a package of proposals with the potential to transform our country.

“This is an amazing opportunity to shape the future of our country, and I am delighted to be leading this important initiative with a fantastic team.”

The commission includes both members and non-members of the SNP.