Tackling injustice during Challenge Poverty Week - Cammy Day

Challenge Poverty Week is being supported by charities, councils, individuals and politicians across the country. (Poverty Alliance)Challenge Poverty Week is being supported by charities, councils, individuals and politicians across the country. (Poverty Alliance)
Challenge Poverty Week is being supported by charities, councils, individuals and politicians across the country. (Poverty Alliance)
​In 2020, the Council and the Edinburgh Partnership made a bold step. We committed to taking all the local actions possible to end poverty in this city by 2030.

Much like our ambitious plan to hit net zero by 2030 – which we touched on during Scottish Climate Week last week – I want to highlight the injustice of poverty and exactly what we’re doing to address it.

Challenge Poverty Week 2023 runs until Sunday and we’ve been attending and supporting a number of events to drive home the impacts of inequality in our city and encourage action from all quarters.

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The week kicked off with the launch of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s independent, annual state of the nation report on Monday which I attended and heard from a number of excellent speakers. This report sets out the nature and scale of poverty in Scotland, finding that over one million people still live in poverty in Scotland, around 80,000 of which we know live in our city.

Yesterday we attended an online Poverty Alliance discussion about the lived experiences of those experiencing in-work poverty, which is something we’ve trying to address with our living wage campaign. While I’m delighted that Edinburgh has had Living Wage City status since 2021 we want to do much more.

Interventions like the living wage are likely to be high on the agenda for the End Poverty Edinburgh Citizen Group for their meeting today. I’m looking forward to hearing directly about the issues impacting our residents.

Supporting our most vulnerable young people will be the main item for tomorrow’s child poverty action meeting, where we’ll be hearing about learning from pathfinder projects in other parts of Scotland. We’ll also be meeting with Edinburgh’s voluntary organisations to discuss Community Wealth Building, what is involved in that and what roles we all need to play to make it happen.

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Ending poverty is not something we can do alone as a council, so it’s really heartening to see so much collaboration this week between partners and action to help us achieve our shared aims.

For instance, I was pleased to hear this year that NHS Scotland is shining a light on its Community Benefits Gateway. It’s an easy-to-use online service that matches willing NHS Scotland suppliers with Scottish third sector organisations who are looking for assistance, and this can be anything from supporting training and development to donations of equipment.

The rise in inflation and general economic instability has highlighted the importance of those in financially vulnerable situations, but it has also made our city’s challenges greater.

Residents are facing the toughest financial squeeze of their lifetimes, and we – and our partners – are working extremely hard to lessen the impacts.

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I’m conscious that as the days draw in, we’re hurtling towards another winter under the cost-of-living crisis. Many people across the city will be concerned about the months ahead and their own economic circumstances.

It’s vital that we cooperate to progress the work of the Edinburgh Poverty Commission to tackle this directly and a report will come forward later this month looking at the progress we’ve made. We’ve worked hard to act on the recommendations of the commission, but considering our ambitious aspirations, we still have far to go, which the third annual report will detail.

We are proud of all the hard work that has gone on this year to help families through some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable for household budgets.

We recognise that while the council has a huge responsibility to its residents, the scale of the challenge requires action at Holyrood and at Westminster, and from all partners in our city. And I remain steadfastly committed to doing my utmost as council leader along with colleagues and the city’s partners to improving the situation here in Edinburgh.

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Please visit our dedicated Cost of Living webpage for further information on welfare, housing, homelessness, energy, food, bills, council tax reduction, free school meals/clothing grants, and general financial advice.

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