Living Wage Week articles

A Just Capital identified action needed for Edinburgh’s employers, Trades Unions, social enterprises, and public sector bodies to come together in a new collective to make Edinburgh a Living Wage City with a shared commitment to the actions needed to at least double the number of living wage accredited employers in Edinburgh over the next three years.

Three Living Wage Week articles support this call.

In Commissioner Sandy MacDonald’s blog for Cyrenians on 10 November he reflects on his hope that by working together across sectors fair work can become an effective pathway out of poverty for all our citizens. You can read Sandy’s blog here: https://cyrenians.scot/blog/159-living-wage-week

On the 13 November Council Leader Adam McVey and Depute Leader and Edinburgh Poverty Commissioner Cammy Day confirm Edinburgh’s ambition to gain Living Wage City status to help to eradicate poverty from our city within the next 10 years. Their full article can be found here: https://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/news/article/13033/making-edinburgh-a-living-wage-city

In the Edinburgh Evening News on 16 November Ian Swanson’s article looks at enlisting private companies to help promote better pay across the Capital. Follow this link to the full article: https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/politics/edinburgh-aims-win-living-wage-city-status-3036456

Council agrees Commission’s actions

At yesterday’s (6 October 2020) meeting of the City of Edinburgh Council’s Policy and Sustainability Committee, our final report, A Just Capital: Actions to End Poverty in Edinburgh, setting Edinburgh the challenge to end poverty by 2030 was considered and accepted by elected members.

Chair of the Commission, Dr Jim McCormick, provided an overview of the report’s actions, and was followed by Commission member, Zoe Ferguson, who delivered an outline of plans to develop the new End Poverty Edinburgh network.

Following this, Councillors from all parties recorded their thanks and praised the Commission’s work over the last two years. They also noted the significance of this report.

Going forward this means that Councillors agreed that the Council will work with employers, the public sector and third sector agencies across the city, to come together to challenge poverty within Edinburgh by providing:

  • The right support in the places people work and live
  • Fair work that provides dignity and security
  • A decent home people can afford to live in
  • Income security that provides a real safety net
  • Opportunities that drive justice and boost prospects
  • Connections in a city that belongs to its citizens, and
  • Equality in health and wellbeing

The committee also agreed to work closely with End Poverty Edinburgh to implement the actions. This is a group of Edinburgh citizens we have met during our inquiry, who have expressed their desire and commitment to be a part of the change their city needs to make. Some members have experience of living in poverty, others see the impact of poverty directly through their work and others are allies who care and want to see justice for their fellow citizens.

Speaking after the meeting, Adam McVey, Council Leader, said:

“Tackling poverty in Edinburgh is one of our key priorities as a Council – enabling everyone in our City to take advantage of everything the Capital has to offer. We have already made significant resources available for people and are working hard to eradicate poverty in our city. Now we’re doubling down, taking on the research and recommendations from the Commission to guide us as we work towards our goal of ending poverty in the Capital within the next 10 years.

“One of the most powerful elements of the work done by the Commission was hearing and responding to the voices of those who have lived experience of poverty in Edinburgh. Our first priority will be to meet and agree ways of working with the new group End Poverty Edinburgh to ensure that their views can continue to shape the way we implement the Commission’s findings.

“We know that this will not be an easy task, but Edinburgh is a city of wealth and enormous talent and we’re determined to work with the Scottish and UK Governments, citywide partners– and of course, our residents – to drive the change that is so greatly needed.”

Cammy Day, Depute Council Leader and Depute Chair of the Edinburgh Poverty Commission, also commented noting that:

“We’re in no doubt that this is an ambitious target and it is one that we need the whole city to embrace as well as support from Scottish and UK Governments to achieve. Poverty can impact any one of us at any time, and we need to take a Team Edinburgh approach to tackle it, where organisations, communities and residents work together to end poverty in Edinburgh by 2030. We welcome the opportunity to work in collaboration with others, such as the Edinburgh Partnership and relevant organisations in the public, private and third sectors, to make this happen.

“We know that, while the pandemic has certainly escalated the situation, this is a crisis that requires urgent attention and I’m heartened by the endorsement that the Commission’s report received today.

“Again, I would like to thank all of those in the Edinburgh Poverty Commission and End Poverty Edinburgh, as well as every person who took the time to give us their thoughts or tell us their own stories, for the incredible work that has been done to date.”

The Committee report can be read here and the proceedings can be watched on the Council’s webcast here.

Photo: The City Chambers Edinburgh, cc-by-sa/2.0 © Ronnie Leask – geograph.org.uk/p/989163

‘A Just Capital’ report in the media

Last week, we published our final report, A Just Capital, setting out actions to end poverty in Edinburgh.

On the back of this, we have been delighted with the response that local and national media have had to this report.

Below are some highlights:

The Herald

The Scotsman

Daily Record

The National

The Sunday Post

Times Educational Supplement

Edinburgh Evening News

Aberdeen Evening Express

Scottish Housing News

The Edinburgh Reporter

North Edinburgh News

STV News

BBC Radio Scotland

BBC Radio 4

A Just Capital: Actions to End Poverty in Edinburgh

Today, we launch our final report, A Just Capital: Actions to End Poverty in Edinburgh. In this blog, our Chair, Dr Jim McCormick, sets out the Commission’s journey, what we have learned along the way, and what we are calling for next.

Read the final report here and the supplementary data and evidence paper here.

Our Call to Action in Edinburgh comes after almost two years of conversations across the city: with people experiencing poverty, the community anchors that support them, keyworkers, employers, councillors, public service officials, housing providers and taxi drivers. This rich process has uncovered new insights on how poverty is experienced in Scotland’s capital city – some arising directly from the COVID-19 pandemic – but more stemming from long-established struggles. We set out much of what we had learned about the immediate impact of Covid in our interim report in May.

Since then, we have maintained a clear focus on addressing the root causes of poverty as well as mitigating the consequences. We have discovered common ground among people with different experiences and in different sectors: that poverty in Edinburgh is real, damaging and costly – but also that, despite the powerful currents that threaten to drive us further off course, there is enough determination in the city to embrace the twin challenges of solving poverty and reducing carbon emissions over the next decade.

We have identified six broad areas for action and one cultural challenge that should serve as a lens through which each action should be approached. Our first proposition is that 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 – above all, in the city’s schools. In addition, a much sharper focus on connections across the city is needed – via digital participation, cheaper transport and creating neighbourhoods that work. These actions combined will flow through to reduced harm to people’s physical and mental health. Emergency food support should not become locked in as a fourth emergency service but serve as a gateway to other support that will ease isolation and build human connection and kindness where it has been lacking.

The common challenge running through all of our work is a cultural one. We call on the City Council and its partners in all sectors to shift towards a relationship-based way of working which gets alongside people and communities in a holistic way. 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. It will take visible leadership and longer-term financial commitment. There are green shoots in Edinburgh and examples from beyond Scotland demonstrating how better outcomes for families can be achieved and fewer resources locked into multiple complex systems. We call this ‘the right support in the places we live and work’ to signal the importance of local access to multiple forms of support under one roof and within walking or pram-pushing distance – for example money advice and family support offered in nurseries, schools, GP surgeries and libraries.

None of these challenges are new. The City Council and its partners can point to significant investment in recent years to turn the tide on poverty. But we are not persuaded that actions have been consistent, at scale, sustained over time or have poverty reduction as part of their purpose.

While Edinburgh has many of the powers to go further, we are not persuaded that it can deliver on the required social housing expansion without a new funding deal with the Scottish Government. This is urgently needed to boost investment and to help unlock the supply of land at a reasonable price. Almost one in three families in Edinburgh in poverty are pulled below the water line solely due to their housing costs. That compares with one in eight households in poverty across Scotland. Solving the city’s housing crisis will go a long way to delivering on affordable housing ambitions for the country as a whole. At the same time, the UK Government has a critical role in creating an income lifeline for families in and out of work, by maintaining the currently temporary increase in Universal Credit and Local Housing Allowance – both of which have become more significant as a result of damage to Edinburgh’s job market since March. 

This Call to Action is not a list of recommendations or a menu of options. Reflecting our lives, each area is connected to the others. A plan for housing makes little sense in isolation from a plan for schools. Developing skills for employment will fall short if basic needs for secure, decent housing and food are neglected. Nor is the ten-year horizon a get-out clause. We have worked on this basis because Scotland has committed to a significant cut in child poverty by 2030 and because many of the city’s existing plans run to the same schedule. We call on the City Council and the wider Edinburgh Partnership to set out its initial response by Christmas, as part of a first year of planning and early implementation.

And we are leaving a legacy through a new independent network, End Poverty Edinburgh. Led by Commission member Zoe Ferguson and our partners at Poverty Alliance, this brings together a core group of residents with first-hand experience of living on a low income and allies who want to be part of shaping the solutions. Inspired by a similar approach in Edmonton (Alberta), they will stress test this report, challenge and add their own ideas, work with city partners to achieve progress but also hold the city to account on its response.

I want to thank everyone who contributed to our work in the hard graft of sharing painful stories, completing surveys and through organised and chance conversations. Each member of the Commission gave their time, energy and ideas generously and for longer than originally asked. The quotes in this report reflect only a little of their brilliant contributions. Our work – and this report – was only possible due to the skill, care and patience brought by our secretariat team of Chris Adams, Nicola Elliott, Ciaran McDonald, and Gareth Dixon.

We have listened, been shocked and inspired – I hope we have done justice to what we have learned. 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

Blogs and other updates


A Just Capital: Final Report Launch Event

On 30 September we hosted an online event to coincide with the publication of our final report, A Just Capital: Actions to End Poverty in Edinburgh. This was a hugely popular event with over 220 people tuning in from across the country to learn about the Commission’s...

Council agrees Commission’s actions

At yesterday’s (6 October 2020) meeting of the City of Edinburgh Council’s Policy and Sustainability Committee, our final report, A Just Capital: Actions to End Poverty in Edinburgh, setting Edinburgh the challenge to end poverty by 2030 was considered and accepted by...

End Poverty Edinburgh – Films

As part of our launch event of our final report, A Just Capital: Actions to End Poverty in Edinburgh, we spoke to four citizens about their experiences of living in poverty in the city. Thanks to Sarah, Linda, Iscah and Paul for their time, knowledge and input. All...

Poverty is complex… but do the solutions have to be?

This #ChallengePovertyWeek, we publish a guest blog by Paul McColgan, CEO of Community Renewal Group. Community Renewal has some radical ideas about lifting poor neighbourhoods out of poverty but they are radical in their simplicity. These ideas go against the grain...