The Challenge of Inequality: Time For Debate
Sara Cowan Campaigns and Activism Co-ordinator
19th Jul 2014
Recently released research has revealed increasing levels of poverty in Scotland. Over the last year a further 110,000 people fell below the poverty line, under which affording the basic essentials of life is often a struggle. The fact that women, men and children are turning to food banks to get enough to eat is just one sign that the system isn't working.
In a wealthy country like Scotland, it's scandalous that some 820,000 people now live in poverty, including 180,000 children.
But alongside increasing poverty, there's another major issue: inequality.
Across the UK the five richest families own the same as the poorest 20% of the population put together. Here in Scotland, the richest 10% of households have 900 times more wealth than the poorest 10%.
And yet, figures from the Trussell Trust in Scotland show the amount of food aid distributed has risen sharply, with over 71,000 people using their food banks last year - a five-fold increase over the previous 12 months.
Large increases have also been reported by other food aid providers and it's a similar story UK-wide. George Kirkpatrick, from our partners the West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare, recently told us that charitable organisations like them "either had to intervene or stand aside and let people starve." That's a choice they simply shouldn't have to make.
Things need to change to narrow the gap between the richest and the rest, and we think the referendum on Scottish independence is a great opportunity to challenge our politicians to answer the question: "what will you do to reduce the inequality gap in Scotland?"
Whether part of Yes Scotland or Better Together, we need politicians from across all the parties to urgently debate the inequality question. Oxfam Scotland doesn't take a view on the referendum outcome but we believe that, regardless of the outcome, politicians need to commit to putting real solutions in place as a matter of urgency.
We need your help to show that this is an issue that really matters to people living in Scotland. You can take action here.
There's also a great opportunity for you to put your questions to the politicians in person. Join us on 25th July when we'll be hearing from politicians from both Yes Scotland and Better Together. Find out more and book your space here.
If you can't join us in person then join the conversation on twitter @OxfamScotland and watch out for more blogs.