Poverty has blighted Scotland for generations - and continues to hold too many of our people back from achieving their potential.
It is unacceptable that, in Scotland, the wealth of a child's family should determine their chance of enjoying the kind of positive future that should be their right. It is also unacceptable that, because of a lack of income, older people can be deprived of the right to live in dignity - or that families can be dragged into a cycle of deprivation.
The time has come for sustained action to address this huge waste of potential in our people and society. Many of our closest neighbours have combined higher levels of social equity, economic growth and a good quality of life for their citizens - while, in Scotland, our poor have remained poor and their opportunities have remained limited.
This Government has a new level of ambition for Scotland and is determined to address the root causes of poverty once and for all, and to bring about the change that our nation and our communities need.
The overarching Purpose of this Government is to create a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth. Delivering on that Purpose will mean delivering greater Solidarity in Scotland - a fairer distribution of wealth which we believe is key to tackling poverty. That is why we have set a national target to increase the proportion of income received by the poorest 30% of households by 2017.
This is a challenging target - and, it is one that the Scottish Government cannot achieve alone. However, this Framework - agreed with COSLA - provides a focus for our public, private and third sectors to work together in a concerted effort to deliver greater Solidarity for all. By leading this broad coalition for change, Government will champion community empowerment and deliver large increases in funding and support for the Third Sector in Scotland.
While we have focused on those actions we can take within our existing powers, we have also set out some principles by which we believe a more effective benefits and tax credits system could operate. These contribute to the National Conversation and will serve as the basis for renewed discussion and collaboration between our local authorities, the Scottish Government and the UK Government.
We believe that the balanced approach taken in this Framework - encouraging work by removing barriers to employment; supporting those who cannot work for example through income maximisation; and making work pay - will ensure its continuing relevance over the years ahead.
We are determined to provide opportunities for all people to flourish and to work with others to tackle the injustice of poverty in modern Scotland. With this Framework, and with the collective will of the people of Scotland, there is no reason why we cannot eradicate the worst effects of poverty and deliver greater Solidarity for all. Progress can now be tracked at a national level through the Scotland Performs website. In addition, the Single Outcome Agreements between the Scottish Government and Community Planning Partnerships will provide the vehicle for describing how poverty is being tackled at a local level. I encourage civic society in Scotland to hold us to account for delivery.
Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing
Poverty stands in the way of our society achieving its full potential. This Framework represents a new approach to tackling poverty, where we will work together as two spheres of government to achieve common outcomes.
Shared National Outcomes have been agreed by COSLA and the Scottish Government as part of our historic Concordat - they include tackling the significant inequalities in Scottish society. This Framework, along with the Early Years Framework and Equally Well, the report of the Ministerial Taskforce on Health Inequality, expresses our commitment to a new approach of collaborative working, and investment in the prevention of social ills including through early intervention.
It is now our task to link together the principles and priorities laid out in these frameworks and work together with communities and other stakeholders to ensure that these priorities are implemented through Single Outcome Agreements at the local level.
The current economic conditions serve to remind us that poverty isn't something that only affects a few. While 17% of Scotland's population are living in poverty at the moment, many people are vulnerable to poverty at different times in their lives. I have a particular hope that the action on fuel poverty highlighted in this Framework will be supplemented by local level long-term interventions to help those who are struggling with soaring bills.
Let us all take this opportunity to play our own role in solving this problem. Let us tackle poverty and income inequality together.
Councillor Harry McGuigan, Community Safety and Wellbeing Spokesperson, COSLA
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