Work and living standards
Having a decent standard of living is a key theme to emerge from the discussion. For many, that means having a job that pays a fair wage and treats people fairly.
Access to jobs and support to find employment is therefore discussed. A key point made is for job seekers to receive more individually tailored support to ensure they find work that they want to do.
There are a number of comments on providing employment opportunities for specific groups and how more support should be provided to do this. Mentoring schemes for young people is one suggested example. Extending the age threshold of the Modern Apprenticeship scheme to better accommodate disabled people is another.
Level of income is also discussed. The idea of every person having an adequate level of income is raised, with a number of ways suggested as to how to do this. More people being paid the Living Wage and increases to both the living and minimum wages are suggested. Paying apprentices more is another idea put forward.
Tackling poverty is another key issue, with a general feeling that society should be doing everything it can to end poverty in all its forms e.g. child poverty; food poverty; and fuel poverty. Addressing poverty is recognised as being key to creating a fairer Scotland.
The 'poverty premium' is discussed… how those living in poverty are further disadvantaged through, for example, increased utility costs and lack of access to affordable credit. Legislation to prevent high interest lenders from operating is one suggested solution. Another is that energy costs should be made the same regardless of how you pay for your fuel.
Improvements in working conditions is also discussed. Specific ideas include: greater flexibility in employment, with employers to give more consideration to individual employee circumstances; equal pay between women and men, and between people of different ages, if they are doing the same job; and bringing an end to zero hours contracts to provide more work and wage security.
Linked to this is the issue of childcare. There are many comments on the costs of childcare and a view that more affordable childcare would help parents wishing to work. Greater flexibility within childcare is also suggested as a way to improve employment prospects. More provision and more affordable wraparound care for school-aged children is another prominent point raised.
Email: Paul Sloan
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