Inclusion Scotland

Working towards a society where disabled people are equal citizens

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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

A report by Heriot-Watt University for the Equality and Human Rights Commission has revealed how policies which aim to tackle poverty in the most deprived areas don’t always benefit the poorest people, particularly those in minority communities.

The research showed that there is not always a link between the poorest places and the poorest people.  While many of those experiencing the greatest poverty do live in the poorest areas, some do not.  This means that policies which target particular areas, or ‘place based policies’, do not always benefit everyone equally.

Commenting on the report, Kaliani Lyle, Equality & Human Rights Commission Scotland Commissioner said:  “Much of the Government’s strategy to tackle the scourge of poverty in Scotland is a concentration on the poorest 15% of areas. We do not dispute that this is necessary or appropriate, but we are concerned that an overreliance on place may discriminate against those people in poverty who don’t happen to live in those areas. Our research shows that many equalities groups – disabled people, minority ethnic groups, lone parents, older people - may experience high levels of poverty but won’t necessarily benefit from the Government’s approach because there is no “flex” built in to accommodate their needs. What we need is a more nuanced approach which takes into account the fact that some of our poorest people don’t live in our poorest areas.”

The research reviewed previous approaches in Scotland such as Social Inclusion Partnerships as well as evidence from England and elsewhere. It found that the data was often so poor that no-one could say with any confidence that anti-poverty programmes actually benefitted disabled people, ethnic minorities or lone parents in the same way that they benefited other local residents.

The report found that:

Where equalities groups do live in the poorest areas, they do not always benefit from place based policies because the reasons for their poverty may differ from those around them – for example a disabled person may need specific support with transport to enable them to work. If this specific problem isn’t addressed they face exclusion from the labour market.