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3 Families Wealthier Than Poorest 20% of People in Scotland

Posted by Jamie Livingstone Head of Oxfam Scotland

25th Jul 2014

The richest 3 families in Scotland own more wealth than the poorest 20% of the Scottish population put together, according to a new estimate of inequality released by Oxfam Scotland.

The calculation comes ahead of a major seminar and referendum hustings in Glasgow today (Friday, July 25) with senior figures from both sides in the independence debate. They will be challenged to say how they believe the problem of inequality in Scotland can be challenged.

Yes Scotland will be represented by the Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP and by the Co-Convenor of the Scottish Green Party Patrick Harvie MSP. Better Together will be represented by the Deputy Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar MP and by Scottish Labour's Spokesperson for Welfare, Social Justice and Equalities Jackie Baillie MSP.

Inequality isn't just a Scottish problem - it's a global challenge, but it's one that we can no longer afford to ignore

Scotland is a wealthy country but, right now, that wealth is far too concentrated. At the same time, poverty is increasing with a surge in foodbank use and growing numbers of people facing poverty despite being in-work.

We don't take a position on the outcome of the independence referendum but we do take a very firm stand against poverty and extreme inequality. We need all of our politicians to outline what they will do to make sure everyone has a decent standard of living.

We believe it is time for politicians, at all levels, to take action. The hustings is being held as part of a wider Oxfam Scotland seminar focusing on inequality.

Among those speaking is economist and financial journalist, Stewart Lansley - author of several books including "the Cost of Inequality" and "Rich Britain".

Stewart who is currently a visiting Fellow at the Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research said: "History shows that excessive inequality brings economic deadlock. Today, rising inequality and falling wages is a serious drag on recovery.

"Without a more even distribution of the economic cake, the economy will continue to falter. Securing a more equal distribution is one of the most urgent political and economic issues of the day."

The seminar will also hear from Gehan McLeod, Programme Director of GalGael in Govan, a project which for nearly twenty years has made people of all backgrounds feel welcome, particularly those who have felt the brunt of social inequalities or faced personal setbacks in their lives.

She said: "Too often the outright injustice of inequality is obscured by being dressed up by insidious notions of the deserving as opposed to the undeserving poor.

"In our experience at GalGael people don't need help or 'fixed' - they just need a bit of dignity, purpose and a fair chance. Our 10,000 sq ft. in Govan isn't enough - we'd like to see a Scotland post September that creates those conditions for all."

Want to get involved?

Oxfam Scotland is a running an online action urging people in Scotland to contact both Yes Scotland and Better Together to challenge them on the issue of inequality.  

If you'd like to submit a question to the speakers you can add a comment below or use twitter @oxfamscotland #inequality.

Blog post written by Jamie Livingstone

Head of Oxfam Scotland

More by Jamie Livingstone