On Tuesday, the City of Edinburgh’s Policy and Sustainability Committee agreed the actions set out in the End Poverty in Edinburgh Delivery Plan 2020-30, published by the Council last week. This is a significant step in meeting the Edinburgh Poverty Commission’s call to action that all city partners make a public commitment to end poverty in Edinburgh by 2030.
The Council’s End Poverty in Edinburgh Delivery Plan sets out key actions to be taken by the Council. The Plan recognises that the Council has a critical role to play in meeting the recommendations made by the independent Edinburgh Poverty Commission. Significantly, it sets out how central calls to action made by the Commission for changes in the culture and approaches to the way support services are delivered and experienced in Edinburgh can be embedded.
As Dr Jim McCormick, Chair of the Edinburgh Poverty Commission, wrote:
“The experience of poverty is too often one of stigma, being assessed, referred and passed from pillar to post – a separate service and multiple workers for each need. This radical move would see public servants authorised to put poverty prevention at the heart of their day-to-day work. It will mean new relationships with citizens, employees and third sector partners”.
Over the last year, I have conducted research that has revealed the experiences of people living in poverty in Edinburgh. I heard from citizens who met with barriers to accessing support and who often felt that they were passed from pillar to post between services. A clear message was a need for continued support from one person or service in the City.
The breadth and depth of the Council’s End Poverty in Edinburgh Delivery Plan 2020-30 is certainly ambitious. The report sets out 13 specific priority actions for the Council. These actions include designing and implementing a new service model for people focused Council services. Whilst this commitment is extremely significant, it is vital that citizens’ voices are instrumental in building this new approach.
Most importantly, End Poverty Edinburgh, a group of citizens and experts by experience in the city should be at the heart of tackling poverty in the city through sharing their wealth of experience and as a key partner in the Council’s commitment to end poverty in Edinburgh by 2030. This group of Edinburgh residents with first-hand experiences of living on a low income with allies who care about poverty in the city, will have a key role in working with the Council and other partners by holding the city to account.
Going forwards, the Council and other partners face key challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. In February, the Council will be setting out their priorities for the 2021-24 Council Budget. Faced with a £47.5m gap in their budget over the next three years, yesterday’s commitment by the Council’s Policy and Sustainability Committee to deliver the End Poverty in Edinburgh Delivery Plan must be at the centre to embed the actions needed to make change.
Dr Laura Robertson, The Poverty Alliance
3 December 2020
Full research findings: