Strathclyde partnership awarded funding to tackle poverty in Scotland

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The University of Strathclyde has been awarded £445,055 for a project focused on identifying how paid employment can provide protection against poverty.

The partnership between the University’s Fraser of Allander Institute, Institute for Inspiring Children's Futures and the Poverty Alliance will work with employers and related public services, as well as people in poverty, to identify and implement meaningful change to reduce the risk of in-work poverty for families.

It was one of six projects to share a total of £2.4 million awarded by the Partners in Change fund, run by The Robertson Trust, to generate fresh perspectives and drive ambitious approaches to prevent and mitigate the negative impacts of poverty and trauma.

Partners in Change focuses on the concept of change, and its application to how services and support for people experiencing poverty and trauma are designed and delivered across Scotland.

Key opportunity

Emma Congreve, Knowledge Exchange Fellow from the Fraser of Allander Institute, said: “Low pay and insecure contracts undermine the health and wellbeing of the workforce and their families, as well as threaten the viability of customer-focused businesses who depend on a motivated and experienced workforce to compete and thrive.

“This investment from the Robertson Trust unlocks a key opportunity to bring together businesses alongside those with experience of low pay and poverty in a facilitated process of learning and adaptation to a more sustainable, productive and poverty-free future.

“We know that this future is achievable and essential. This project will provide the evidence to prove what is possible.”

The project will support employers to identify changes to enable them to prevent their staff moving into or help them exit from poverty and identify actions that can be taken by individual businesses to reduce and prevent in-work poverty and evaluate their success.

It will also identify factors outside the control of businesses that impact on their role in reducing poverty. The main beneficiaries will be workers at risk of poverty and employers operating in challenging sectors.

Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “More than 60% of children living in poverty in Scotland are in households where someone works. More needs to be done to prevent families being pulled into poverty, and to end in-work poverty. We are delighted to be working with the Fraser of Allander Institute and the Institute for Inspiring Children's Futures to help identify the actions that employers can take to begin to turn the tide on in-work poverty. This is an innovative and ambitious approach which recognises the central role that employers will play if we are to move towards a fairer economy for all.”

Professor Jennifer Davidson, Executive Director of the Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures at the University of Strathclyde, said: “This is an innovative win-win project for businesses and for families. We’ll be learning from families with lived experience of in-work poverty to identify what employers and others can do differently; and we’ll be helping businesses with the changes they need, including using strategic foresight to support them to plan for successful futures in these uncertain times.

Poverty can have a harmful and lifelong impact on children’s lives. And so we’re excited to have this chance to work together to find practical and promising new ways to change the future for these children, their families and their communities, while strengthening the future for businesses in Scotland.”

Aspirational change

It is estimated that 17% of Scotland's population (910,000 people each year) were living in absolute poverty after housing costs between 2016 and 2019. During the same period, it is estimated that 24% of children (230,000 children each year) were living in relative poverty after housing costs. Of those children living in poverty, 68% live in working households.

The Scottish Refugee Council, Aberlour Child Care Trust, Capital City Partnership, Action for Children and Apex Scotland were also awarded funding by the Robertson Trust.

Robertson Trust Chief Executive Jim McCormick, said: “The current global health crisis has clearly demonstrated the role that communities, as well as the organisations working with them, have in addressing need and enacting change. But the crisis has also highlighted the huge strain under which these communities and organisations already were, and the need they have for better resource and support.

“Partners in Change aims to get behind aspirational change plans to shift the problems caused by poverty and trauma in Scotland. I am delighted that we are able to support these organisations, which have demonstrated their ambition to make a difference to the communities and people with whom they work and who are affected by poverty and trauma across the country.”

The Robertson Trust is one of the leading grant-making charitable trusts in Scotland and aims to improve the quality of life and realise the potential of people and communities in Scotland.