The work of the Edinburgh Poverty Commission has been shortlisted for a national award as the City aims to end poverty in Scotland’s capital by 2030.
The group, which worked together throughout 2019 and 2020, is in the running for the ‘Community Involvement’ category of the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) awards with the winner being announced later in the year.
Also nominated in the Rising Star category is Paula McLeay, Head of Policy and Insight at the City of Edinburgh Council.
In the past year Paula has led and delivered work on climate strategy, poverty and a fair, sustainable Covid-recovery programme. She was also instrumental in setting up the Edinburgh Poverty Commission.
The Commission was an independent group sponsored by the City of Edinburgh Council in 2018 to define the steps the city needed to take to end poverty. In doing so it led the largest single inquiry on the experiences, causes, and solutions to poverty ever conducted in any local authority area in Scotland.
A final report - A Just Capital: Actions to End Poverty in Edinburgh - was published in September last year in which the Commission concluded that poverty in Edinburgh is real and damaging, but it is not inevitable.
The report made a call to action for the city to end poverty in Edinburgh by 2030 so that:
- no one in Edinburgh feels stigmatised, abandoned, or treated with less respect by the city as a result of their income or their wealth
- no one needs to go without basic essentials they need to eat, keep clean, stay warm and dry
- fewer than one in 10 people are living in relative poverty in Edinburgh at any given time, and
- no one in Edinburgh lives in persistent poverty
To meet these goals, the Commission identified six priority areas – fair work, a decent home, income security, opportunities to progress, connections, health and wellbeing – and a total of 48 specific actions to be taken forward by all stakeholders and citizens of Edinburgh.
Alongside these the Commission set out one critical cultural challenge to serve as a lens through which each action should be approached. To end poverty in the city, the Commission stated, the single biggest transformation Edinburgh could achieve would be to make the experience of seeking help less painful, less complex, more humane, and more compassionate.
Last year’s report marked the end of the work of the Edinburgh Poverty Commission, but only the beginning of a movement that needs to take root to create an Edinburgh without poverty. As a legacy, Commissioners helped to develop End Poverty Edinburgh - a new independent group of residents with first-hand experience of living on a low income and their allies who want to be part of shaping the solutions. With the support of the Poverty Alliance, End Poverty Edinburgh has been meeting regularly throughout 2021 and aim to raise awareness of poverty in Edinburgh, influence decision-making and hold the city to account.
In response to the report the Council has already pledged over £3m of additional investment and published a detailed plan of the work it will do to lead the delivery of Edinburgh Poverty Commission actions. A full annual report on actions to end poverty in Edinburgh will be considered by Council in September 2021.
Zoe Ferguson, Edinburgh Poverty Commission member, said:
It is great to see this recognition of the Commission’s work, and to see End Poverty Edinburgh continuing to put the voice of people who experience poverty at the heart of the response from the Council and Edinburgh Partnership.
The actions outlined in the Commission’s report were shaped by listening. The testimony of so many people we spoke to is voiced in the call to make the experience of seeking help less painful, less complex, more humane and more compassionate.
We need the continuing movement led by End Poverty Edinburgh to ensure that material actions and that shift in culture are delivered.
Councillor Cammy Day, Depute Chair of the Edinburgh Poverty Commission and Depute Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, said:
Whilst it’s welcome the work of the Edinburgh Poverty Commission has been recognised across the UK it does drive home the enormous challenges we face here in Scotland’s capital city to end poverty by 2030.
Tackling poverty is one of our key priorities as a Council and our 2030 target is ambitious but one I’m convinced can be achieved. It’s going to take a Team Edinburgh approach to tackle it, where organisations, communities and residents work together. This approach coupled with support from UK and Scottish Governments mean we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a real difference to our communities.”
Council Leader Adam McVey said:
This is a welcome celebration for the work of the Edinburgh Poverty Commission, and the End Poverty Edinburgh citizen group. It is important too that we see this as wider encouragement to continue the commitment we have made as a Council to involve and empower people in Edinburgh to shape the changes they want to see in their city - whether it is on ending poverty, tackling climate change, or improving local spaces.
I’d also like to congratulate Paula McLeay on her deserved shortlisting in the LGC awards as she is really is a rising star driving forward many projects resulting in real change on the ground like the setting up of the Edinburgh Poverty Commission.
The commitment to end poverty in Edinburgh is one of three strategic priorities embedded in the new Council Business Plan - Our Future Council, Our Future City 2021-2024. The plan outlines actions to ensure that the Council is on track to end poverty in Edinburgh by 2030 by meeting the targets set by the Edinburgh Poverty Commission, and delivering The City of Edinburgh Council End Poverty Plan 2020-30.
The submission for the LGC awards can be summarised as follows:
During its lifetime, the Edinburgh Poverty Commission heard from over 1,000 participants, met or heard from over 70 organisations and held over 100 evidence sessions – one of the largest single inquiry on the experiences, causes, and solutions to poverty ever conducted in any local authority area in Scotland. In publishing their final report, their final action was to pass on the baton to End Poverty Edinburgh, a new network of citizens, set up to make hold the city to account for implementing the Commission’s recommendations and to contribute their wealth of experience to actions to end poverty.