SCVO Media Release
Embargoed until 00.01 on 4 March 2014

NEW CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED TO TACKLE SCOTLAND’S “HUMANITARIAN CRISIS”

  • More than 870,000 people in Scotland are living in poverty
  • A fifth of children in Scotland are living below the breadline
  • 23,000 people turned to food banks in the last six months

Scottish charities stand united in an appeal for people across Scotland to join the fight against poverty in Scotland with the launch today of the Scotland’s Outlook campaign.

Macmillan, Shelter Scotland, Oxfam, Alzheimer Scotland, Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS), Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), the Poverty Alliance and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) are behind the campaign which sheds a light on the scale and impact of poverty, and warns of a bleak outlook for people living in poverty in Scotland.

Hazel, a lone parent living in Fife, said:

“I did not want to be a single mum on benefits, like you seen on the news. Those mums were portrayed as lazy scroungers and I definitely was not like that. I really wanted to work but every way I turned I was hit with barriers and this made accessing employment so difficult. Childcare was so expensive and not readily available in my area. Buses were irregular and expensive.

“I think there needs to be more support for lone parents accessing employment but from an early stage. Childcare needs to be made a priority in all areas, and it should be more affordable and easily accessible. Employers should think about parents when writing contracts or vacancy ads, shifts could be more flexible to support parents and transport could be less expensive.”

Martin Sime, Chief Executive, SCVO, said:

“With nearly a million people in Scotland living in poverty, we have a humanitarian crisis on our hands and we need everyone’s help to tackle it. Thousands of people are turning to food banks, struggling to heat their homes, and to clothe themselves and their children. It’s not right.

“We want people to wake up to the poverty storm that’s engulfing Scotland and get active in the fight against it.”

Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, says:

“People across Scotland are being battered by welfare reforms, stagnant wages, rising utility bills, higher living costs and job insecurity. For many, the safety and security of home is under threat like never before. It’s a perfect storm on our doorstep.

“We see and hear the misery poverty causes every day. Not only does it have a devastating impact on home life, it has long-term detrimental effects on people’s health, wellbeing and life chances – especially children.

“Set against the background of 155,100 households on council waiting lists and nearly 40,000 homelessness applications last year, it is clear that much more needs to be done to combat the root causes of poverty if we are to improve the prospects for everyone living in Scotland.”

Jamie Livingstone, Acting Head of Oxfam Scotland, said:

“Cuts to social safety-nets have gone too far, leading to destitution, hardship and hunger on a large scale.

“Too many Scots don’t even have enough to eat – such glaring inequality simply cannot continue. And poverty isn’t just affecting those out of work, for too many people employment is not a route out of poverty either. We need a society where everyone, whether they are in or out of work, has a decent income that allows them to live with dignity. We should expect nothing less in rich Scotland.”

Peter Hastie, Macmillan’s Campaign, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, said: “Cancer makes a double-pronged attack on people’s finances, often removing their ability to work at the same time as leading to increasing costs such as higher heating bills.

“It’s vital all cancer patients having money problems find out if they are entitled to benefits or any other financial help by getting in touch with Macmillan.”

Jim Pearson, Deputy Director for Policy at Alzheimer Scotland, said:

“The negative perceptions of people living in poverty are compounded by the stigma which too often surrounds dementia. Such perceptions fail to recognise people with dementia, and their carers, as individuals who continue to make a positive contribution to society, preventing them from taking part in society as equal and active citizens. Poverty is more widespread than many people realise, and raising awareness of that is the first step to challenging its damaging effects.”

Jon Heggie, Director of Fundraising and Communications, Children’s Hospice Association Scotland, said:

“Having a child with a life-shortening condition can place a huge financial burden on a family. All of CHAS services are free which is vital to families who live with the ongoing financial implications of their child’s condition. In particular families often have to fund expensive equipment, home adaptations, high fuel bills and regular trips to hospital.

“Even with financial support, many families often need to find significant sums of money themselves in order to ensure they are providing their child with the best possible care.”

John Dickie, Head of CPAG in Scotland, said:

“Independent forecasts predict an explosion in child poverty levels in the coming years as so much of the benefit and tax credit support that millions of families in and out of work rely on is ripped away. But by raising awareness and working together we can, and must, bring about the changes to our economy, social security system and public services that are needed to protect all our citizens from this poverty storm.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

1. The Scotland’s Outlook campaign is brought to you by Macmillan, Shelter Scotland, Oxfam, Alzheimer Scotland, Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS), Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), the Poverty Alliance and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO)

2. The campaign seeks to raise awareness of the scale and impact of poverty on people living in Scotland. For more information about Scotland’s Outlook visit www.scotlandsoutlook.org

3. For interviews or further comment from:

• Shelter Scotland call 0844 515 2442

• Children’s Hospice Association Scotland call 0131 444 4913

• Macmillan Scotland call 0131 260 3720

• Oxfam Scotland call 0141 285 8875

• Alzheimer Scotland call 07900 498223

• Child Poverty Action Group call 07795 340 618

• Poverty Alliance call 0141 353 0440

• SCVO call 07790 601 995