Politicians must stop playing business as usual with new GDP figures

Posted by David Eyre UK Poverty Press Officer

16th Oct 2013

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Oxfam Scotland says business as usual is no longer enough to tackle poverty and inequality and is urging politicians to look beyond new figures showing growth in the Scottish economy.

It says there is an urgent need to stop simply pursuing economic growth as an end in itself and look at the type, quality and distribution of growth.

The charity has urged politicians to follow recommendations from its recent report Our Economy - which sets out a blueprint for sustainable economic growth that makes a real difference in tackling poverty and inequality.

And it says progress along the road to that just economy could be measured by the Oxfam Humankind Index for Scotland - a new measure of collective prosperity based on people's real needs.

Judith Robertson, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said: "When GDP figures go up, too many of our politicians think this is a job well done. But GDP tells us nothing about the quality of economic growth and who benefits from it.

"GDP might be going up, but we know that real wages in Scotland are falling. Employment might be going up, but we know that more than half of the jobs created since 2009 pay less than the Living Wage.

"At least 710,000 people in Scotland are living in poverty and the use of food banks has increased sixfold. We know that the richest households in Scotland are 273 times wealthier than the poorest households. And we have a massive jobs crisis, with eight JSA claimants chasing every full-time vacancy.

"If our politicians are serious about tackling these problems, they need to move beyond GDP and start creating an economy where's there's shared prosperity that meets everyone's basic needs."

Notes

1. The Office of National Statistics has published new estimates, showing that Scotland's Gross Domestic Product went up by 0.6% during the second quarter of 2013.

1 . The Office of National Statistics has published , showing that Scotland's Gross Domestic Product went up by 0.6% during the second quarter of 2013.

2. The ONS also released figures estimating that employment in Scotland rose by 37,000 from June to August 2013.

3. Scottish Government figures show that the median income in 2011/12 was £436 a week, down from £461 a week in 2009/10., and that 710,000 children, working-age adults and pensioners were in relative poverty

4. Figures on the wealth gap between Scotland's richest and poorest households, and on the number of JSA claimants compared to full-time vacancies are from Oxfam Scotland's report 'Our Economy: Towards a new prosperity':

5. The Resolution Foundation report 'Low Pay Britain 2013' found that since 2009 the number of people earning below the living wage of £7.45 a hour has risen by 20% to 4.8million, meaning that half the jobs created paid less than the Living Wage.

6. Figures on food bank use come from The Trussell Trust.

Blog post written by David Eyre

UK Poverty Press Officer

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