Involving experts by experience in our work

When we first met as a Commission, we were clear we wanted to place lived experience at the heart of what we do. We all believed that incorporating the unique perspective from people living with poverty would make our work more informed, credible and influential. However, we also discussed how we weren’t sure that we knew the best ways of putting the insights and experience of people living with poverty at the heart of our work.

Therefore, we asked Poverty Alliance to work with experts by experience to give us guidance. We wanted the experts to tell us how they wanted to work with us. Working over a number of months, they have now produced excellent guidance which translates their insight into practical steps on how to create genuine channels of influence. Today we publish this guidance and make public our promise to follow this guidance in our work.

The guidance document has some excellent ideas for us and clear instructions on how we should work. We commit to meeting each of the 10 steps laid out in the guidance in the following ways:

1. Financial Support to participate: We are developing a policy for reimbursement and payment of experts by experience.
2. Accessibility: We will ensure we have a clear equality impact assessment process and regularly review who we are and are not including in our work.
3. A digitally inclusive approach: We will support experts by experience to be involved digitally.
4. An independent facilitator: We are exploring our options here.
5. Terms of reference will be provided to experts by experience prior to their involvement in the work of the Poverty and Community Commission which sets out their role and responsibilities and what they can expect from their involvement.
6. Tailored training: We will explore how we can provide opportunities to undertake training to support members to undertake their role and for personal development.
7. Transparency on the work of the Commission: We will provide clear information on what the aims of the commission are for newly involved experts by experience and fully brief experts on expectations and timescales.
8. Flexible opportunities to be involved: we will provide experts by experience with a range of options to be involved that meet their individual needs.
9. Regular review: we will regularly review and reflect on the involvement of experts by experience.
10. Legacy and continued engagement: We will explore what opportunities there might be for experts by experience to still be involved in the work of the Commission when their role comes to an end and will consider opportunities to recognise involvement (e.g. by providing a personal reference or a certification related to their role).

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International Women’s Day

Written by Katie Schmuecker

This International Women’s Day there are women in Scotland who are caught in a rising tide of poverty, with their incomes restricted by patterns of work and the division of caring responsibilities – whether that’s for children, disabled or older people. This simply isn’t right in a society that prides itself on justice and compassion.

Getting a job is an effective way out of poverty for most people. But in Scotland women are less likely to be in work than men, leaving them more vulnerable to poverty.  Over the last decade the employment gap has been narrowing, but there is still some way to go, especially for lone parents, disabled women and women from some BAME groups. While a job isn’t always possible, where people are able to work it can help them to build a better life.

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Hearing from people with lived experience of poverty

We have commissioned Poverty Alliance and the Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit (SPIRU) to develop guidance for us on how we can involve people with direct lived experience of poverty in our work.

One of our first tasks as the newly established statutory Poverty and Inequality Commission was to develop some principles setting out how we wanted to work. During our discussion, it was clear how important hearing from people will be to us and how we want people’s experiences and testimony to be at the heart of what we do.

Involving people with direct lived experience of poverty in tackling poverty is becoming more and more common and important. However, SPIRU’s review of evidence found that the views of people with direct lived experience are more often used to illustrate a point, rather than to shape agendas or explain key issues relating to poverty. It also is not always clear what impact involving people with direct lived experience has on policy and practice.

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Dignity and respect in public services

Here we report on work the previous Commission completed on what people with direct lived experience of poverty had to say about public services and being treated with dignity and respect.

At the start of the summer, the non-statutory Poverty and Inequality Commission recruited an intern, Mary Njoki, to go out and speak to people with direct lived experience of poverty about dignity and respect in public services. In 2016 the First Minister’s Independent Advisor on Poverty and Inequality recommended that the Scottish Government should make sure that public services should be delivered in a way that treated people with dignity and respect. The non-statutory Poverty and Inequality Commission wanted to understand whether Scottish Government actions on this recommendation were having an impact. In particular it wanted to involve people with lived experience in understanding the impact on them.

Main findings
We set out to understand more about how people with direct lived experience of poverty feel about dignity and respect in public services. The stories we heard highlighted how important being treated with dignity and respect is to people and how those instances where this is lacking have a lasting impact.

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Child Rights and Child Poverty

Written by Professor Morag Treanor with input from Juliet Harris of Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights)

Today is Universal Children’s Day and the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The UNCRC is a charter comprising 42 articles that set out the human rights to which all children are entitled. It was ratified by every country in the world with the exception of the USA. Although ratified, the UNCRC in the UK was not incorporated into domestic law, which means that children’s rights in the UK have no legal power. The lack of incorporation of the UNCRC into UK or Scots law has meant that whilst courts have found some welfare policies to be in breach of children’s UNCRC rights there has been nothing that the court can do to provide remedy.  For example, the ‘benefits cap’, introduced under the Welfare Reform Act 2012, was found to be in breach of the UNCRC in 2015 but the court had no power to provide any form of redress. In Scotland this may be about to change.

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