Edinburgh Poverty Commission

“Edinburgh will only succeed in creating a prosperous city without poverty if it creates the conditions for good jobs, genuinely affordable housing, income security and meaningful opportunities that drive justice and boost prospects… Our Call to Action sets out something beyond hope: it is an expectation of what the city can and must now achieve.

– Dr Jim McCormick

Chair of Edinburgh Poverty Commission

Actions to End Poverty

In our final report we identified six broad areas for action and one cultural challenge to serve as a lens through which each action should be approached to end poverty in Edinburgh.

This is a call to action for the whole city and everyone who has a stake in its future.

Many, though not all, of the levers needed to end poverty are held by the City of Edinburgh Council – public sector, employers, third sectors, citizens all have critical roles to play in delivering these actions.

What the Edinburgh Poverty Commission did

It is thought that this was the largest single inquiry on the experiences, causes, and solutions to poverty ever conducted in any local authority area in Scotland.

During the inquiry we heard from over 1,000 participants, met or heard from over 70 organisations, held over 100 evidence sessions, and published 7 reports or research papers.

Read more about the Commission’s publications and media highlights.

About Us

Edinburgh Poverty Commission was an independent group that ran from November 2018 to September 2020 to define the steps we all need to take to end poverty in Edinburgh with the aims to:

  • Better understand the forces which drive almost one in four children in Edinburgh into poverty
  • Listen to and learn from the voices of citizens in Edinburgh who are struggling to get by
  • Build on what works well, but challenge the city to do better, and
  • Design the changes we can make as a city to end poverty in Edinburgh.


We were chaired by Jim McCormick of Joseph Rowntree Foundation and made up of 12 people with experience of tackling poverty and its effects, including citizens who had direct experience of living in poverty in Edinburgh.

The work of the Commission was supported by the Edinburgh Partnership, and the City of Edinburgh Council – both bodies have committed to acting on the final recommendations made by the Commission.  We were also supported with funding for research activity provided by the Scottish Government.


The final report, A Just Capital: Actions to End Poverty in Edinburgh, was published in September 2020.

Meet the Commissioners

Edinburgh Poverty Commission was made up of 12 individuals, who collectively brought a broad range of experience, expertise and influence at both local and national levels.

In October 2018, Dr Jim McCormick, Associate Director for Scotland with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation was appointed as independent Chair of the Edinburgh Poverty Commission with the Depute Leader of the Council, Councillor Cammy Day, as Vice Chair.

Appointment of a further ten independent Commissioners was led by the Chair and Vice Chair.

Individuals were selected to provide strong skills and experience in fields covering business, housing, trades unions, third sector, project delivery, health, and education. As a particular priority, careful attention was also paid to ensure that the Commission included citizen members with direct experience of living with poverty and in communities affected by poverty in Edinburgh.

All Commissioners agreed to take part in the project as volunteers.  Throughout the project, all Commissioners participated as individuals, not as representatives of their organisations.

A photo of Dr Jim McCormick (Chair)

Dr Jim McCormick (Chair)

Associate Director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, an independent organisation working to inspire social change through research, policy and practice.

A photo of Cllr Cammy Day (Vice Chair)

Cllr Cammy Day (Vice Chair)

Depute Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council is councillor for Forth Ward in the north of the city, leader of the Edinburgh Labour Group, and Poverty Champion for the Council Administration.

A photo of Mary Alexander

Mary Alexander

Deputy Regional Secretary, Unite the Union.  She champions Unite’s Fair Hospitality charter part of the campaign to transform all workers’ rights at the Fringe and throughout the hospitality industry in Edinburgh.

A photo of Betty Stevenson

Betty Stevenson

A citizen of Edinburgh and convener of Edinburgh Tenants Federation.  She is vocal about the importance of communities being at the heart of design and dialogue about place, what it means in practice and the difference that can be made when local people are involved.

A photo of Diana Noel Paton

Diana Noel Paton

A citizen of Edinburgh and the former Chief Executive of the Thistle Foundation, a third sector organisation committed to supporting people with long term health conditions to live life on their own terms.  She has worked for a number of statutory and voluntary organisations in the field of supported housing and mental health.

A photo of Sandy MacDonald

Sandy MacDonald

Sandy, a citizen of Edinburgh, is passionate about social inclusion and creating equal opportunities for people. He is also a Board member with CHILDREN 1st and is a member of the Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Project leadership group. 

A photo of Chris Kilkenny

Chris Kilkenny

A citizen of Edinburgh. He has been in care, has lived in a rehabilitation unit, has been homeless and forced to live in a B&B and has struggled – and is still struggling – to build a life for himself and his own young family.  He brings to the commission a powerful and thought-provoking view into the world of poverty.

A photo of Celia Tennant

Celia Tennant

Chief Executive of Inspiring Scotland and is passionate about the potential of people and communities to create lasting positive change. Celia sits on the Building Safer Communities Board, Chairs the Community sub group of the Partnership for Action on Drugs in Scotland and is an Advisor to Common Purpose Scotland.

A photo of Zoe Ferguson

Zoe Ferguson

A researcher and citizen of Edinburgh. She has over 20 years’ experience in public policy in Scotland in roles spanning research, analysis and policy, including as the Chief Social Researcher at the Scottish Government.  Her work has covered policy areas such as education, lifelong learning, work, regeneration, economic development, culture and public service reform. 

A photo of Professor Carol Tannahill

Professor Carol Tannahill

Director of the Glasgow Centre for Population Health and Chief Social Policy Adviser to Scottish Government.  Carol is also a Trustee of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Honorary Professor with the University of Glasgow and Glasgow Caledonian University.

A photo of Stephen Kelly

Stephen Kelly

Headteacher of Liberton High School. He has a staff of 65 who aim to provide quality experiences to the school roll of 550 pupils.

A photo of Craig Sanderson

Craig Sanderson

The former Chief Executive of Link Housing Association.  He has 40 years’ experience in the housing sector, and is a former board member of Social Enterprise Scotland, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and Scottish Council for Single Homeless.