Scottish independence referendum: Devolution must offer change for people and places in poverty, says JRF

Reacting to the result of the Scottish independence referendum, Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), said:

“This result provides an opportunity for a new settlement for people and places in poverty across the UK. As well as Scotland, cities, regions and the North of England must be given the tools to regenerate their communities and tackle poverty. The two are not separate agendas.

“We cannot afford to see a return to business as usual: nearly one in five people in Scotland live in poverty – a level unacceptably high for such a wealthy country. Poverty is a risk, waste and a cost Scotland cannot afford.  

“This result is not a defeat for social change, rather the start of an opportunity to make lasting improvements to Scottish society and our economy. But any devolution of powers must be coherent. The central test that should be applied to all proposed new powers should be: what is the effect on people and places on poverty?

“Any new settlement must take into account the cities, regions and nations and its potential to reduce poverty. Devolution on its own will not reduce poverty and any offer of new powers must be judged by the impact it has on poverty, and come as part of a comprehensive strategy to address levels of hardship.

“This opportunity must not go to waste. Politicians, together with businesses, individuals and civil society, need to bring down the high levels of poverty in Scotland, as well as in the rest of the UK.”