Edinburgh Poverty Commission

“Much lower rates of poverty can be achieved, but more of the same won’t do. We need to understand the lived experiences of people facing a tough time across the city, and then be willing to try new ways of equipping them with better tools and opportunities.”

– Jim McCormick

Chair of Edinburgh Poverty Commission

About Us

Edinburgh Poverty Commission is an independent group working together to define the steps we all need to take to end poverty in Edinburgh.

The Commission was launched in November 2018 and 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 are 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 have direct experience of living in poverty in Edinburgh.

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

Why do we need a poverty commission in Edinburgh?

In the video below, some of our commissioners are answering the questions “Why do we need a poverty commission in Edinburgh?”

You will hear responses from Chris Kilkenny, Zoe Ferguson, Sandy MacDonald, Councillor Cammy Day and Dr Jim McCormick.

Meet the Commissioners

Building the commission

Edinburgh Poverty Commission is made up of 12 individuals, who collectively bring 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 Deputy 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 includes 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 are participating as individuals, not as representatives of their organisation.

Jim McCormick (Chair)

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

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.

Mary Alexander

Assistant Scottish Secretary of Unite.  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.

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.

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.

Sandy MacDonald

Head of Corporate Sustainability at Standard Life Aberdeen plc. He 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. 

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.

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.

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. 

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.

Stephen Kelly

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

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.