SNP Government must dip into its £770m reserves to help Edinburgh's poorest – Cammy Day

Many of you will have seen the launch of Edinburgh’s Independent Poverty Commission, which after more than 18 months of research, interviews, discussions and more has presented a bold report with the aim of tackling poverty in our Capital city once and for all.

By Cammy Day
Monday, 19th October 2020, 7:00 am
The Scottish Government needs to help cash-strapped councils do more to help people living in poverty, says Cammy Day (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The Scottish Government needs to help cash-strapped councils do more to help people living in poverty, says Cammy Day (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

End Poverty Edinburgh, a group of amazing people we have encountered during our work, will now oversee the call to action and EIPC’s recommendations.

An underlying principle heard from many many people we met, was the right to be respected. Anyone can suffer the impact of poverty and even more so now with the impact of job losses through Covid, we are seeing unemployment rise and a new community experience poverty and the use of food banks.

Respect and dignity is surely something we all deserve. Yet we face a black hole in the council’s finances with no promise or guarantee of full financial support from our governments. We need to hear the SNP Government in Scotland support local councils throughout Scotland and dip into that £770 million of unallocated reserves to help Edinburgh’s citizens recover.

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I look forward to the city of Edinburgh Council’s response to this which is already underway, but even more so I look forward to hearing how the other public services, NHS, police, further education and others will adapt, and perhaps most important for me, is to hear from the city’s business leaders and employers. Fair pay, a living wage and secure living hours need to become the norm.

Smarty-city technology, will of course be a part of the city’s solutions. Be that in enabling access to technology to allow people to access the best and most cost-effective energy supplies, or providing free city-wide wifi, roving cameras to keep us safe, and smart technology to keep the city moving.

I hope this will also provide new jobs for the city, attract businesses and social enterprise who are keen to support a data capital city. Our desire for a smart-city operations centre in North Edinburgh could see the Edinburgh Waterfront be a new smart city/tech quarter to complement the already fantastic businesses and communities that are delivering daily.

The Scottish Government needs to help cash-strapped councils do more to help people living in poverty, says Cammy Day (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

As politics flares in America, and racial tensions are high, in Edinburgh we are is close to appointing our Black Lives Matter independent review chair. I have recommended Professor Geoff Palmer along with other prominent black figures from the outset and I hope the City will support this in the coming weeks. In addition, Edinburgh Labour has taken time to meet our new BAME staff group representatives in Edinburgh and they are already doing a fantastic job highlighting what needs to change.

And maybe I’ll end on respect and dignity. Whether you’re a politician, a senior officer, a cleaner, care worker, teacher or trade union representative for the Council.

All of us play our part in keeping the city going in some of the most difficult and challenging periods of our lifetime. I respect different views, politics and behaviours but recently I’m embarrassed to hear the language and attacks used in the Council, particularly aimed at our dedicated hard-working staff.

This shameful behaviour needs to change and it feels particularly timely that the police have launched a new Scotland-wide hate crime campaign.

Edinburgh Labour group will continue to defend our staff at all levels and support our trade unions colleagues to make the city a great place to live and work.

Cammy Day is Edinburgh Council Labour group leader

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