A fairer recovery from the pandemic

Report recommends how Scotland can create a better society after COVID.

Tackling poverty and inequality can be central to Scotland’s recovery from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to a new report.

The Social Renewal Advisory Board has published 20 Calls to Action to help create a fairer country, with recommendations around the themes of Money and Work; People, Rights and Advancing Equality; and Communities and Collective Endeavour. The report, If not now, when?, will be considered by the Scottish Government.

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said:

“This ambitious report is a challenge to be bold as we recover from COVID-19. It recognises the strong response to the pandemic which has taken place across Scotland thanks to the collective efforts of local and national government, communities, organisations and individuals. The actions recommended build on work to tackle poverty and reduce inequality, taking a human-rights based approach.”

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“Everyone has felt the impacts of the virus, but those who were already facing disadvantage have faced even greater challenges. We are committed to ensuring our renewal, alongside our response, ensures a Fairer Scotland for everyone no matter their circumstances.”

Sally Thomas, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations Chief Executive and Joint Chair of the report’s Editorial Sub-Group said:

“While there is no doubt the pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges, it has also re-energised work to tackle the inequalities that persist and stand in the way of Scotland becoming the inclusive, fair and progressive country we all want.”

Fellow Joint Chair and Chief Executive of Crisis Jon Sparkes said:

“If accepted and implemented, the calls to action in this report will transform Scotland, building on firm foundations of social justice by continuing to tackle poverty and inequality, ensuring basic rights are realised and working towards fairer, healthier and empowered communities. We must seize this opportunity because if not now, when?”


If not now, when? - Social Renewal Advisory Board report: January 2021 - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

The report calls for the Scottish Government to: 

  • commit to working towards a Minimum Income Guarantee for all
  • offer skills, training and qualifications programmes targeted to those most affected by the pandemic – including disabled people, minority ethnic communities and lone parents
  • commit to a new Affordable Housing Programme, delivering 53,000 affordable homes, including 37,100 homes for social rent
  • set a target to end digital exclusion in the next parliamentary term
  • work with local government and other partners to give more say to people and communities over the decisions which affect their lives
  • strengthen approaches to address and prevent hate crime and public sexual harassment.

The Social Renewal Advisory Board was established in June 2020 as a short-term group to discuss how to deliver a fairer society while Scotland recovers from the effects of the virus.

The Board met 11 times between June 2020 and January 2021 to develop ideas for change, helped by nine policy groups and a wide range of public engagement, including community listening events across 31 local authority areas, four discussions with Poverty Truth Commissions, a set of focus groups with equality organisations, and over 100 responses from organisations to a call for evidence and ideas.

Its aims were to build on shifts in policy and practice as a result of working across portfolios and in partnership with frontline services, the third sector and communities during the response to COVID-19. 

In recognition of the important part that local government plays in delivering services crucial to communities, both COSLA and SOLACE, the leading members' network for local government and public sector professionals throughout the UK, were represented on the Board, and COSLA was represented on each of the policy areas.


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