The Poverty and Inequality Commission strategic priorities

Written by Bill Scott, Chair

Today we are publishing our Strategic Plan, which sets out the vision and priorities that will guide the Commission’s work.

When we came together as a Commission for the first time in 2019 none of us imagined the difficult times that Scotland was going to face in the very near future. The challenge of reducing poverty in Scotland has increased as result of COVID-19, and work to do so has become even more vital.

The pandemic has highlighted and sharpened the impacts of poverty and inequality, but fundamentally these are not new issues, instead they reflect the inequalities that already existed. There is plenty of will in Scotland to tackle poverty and inequality, this now has to be translated into action.

Our Strategic Plan sets out how the Commission will advise, support and challenge partners to embed the shared commitment to addressing poverty and inequality and translate it into action. We have identified five priorities for doing this.

Overarching priority: Amplify the voices of experts by experience to make sure they are part of identifying issues, developing and designing solutions, and scrutinising progress.

This is our overarching priority, which will be at the centre of all our work. We know that people with lived experience are experts because no one understands how poverty affects their lives better than they do. Scotland needs their expertise at the centre of its work to reduce poverty if it is to be successful. As a Commission we are committed to working with experts by experience and will be developing a new approach over the coming year to make sure we do this in a way that is more meaningful and effective.

Strategic Priority 1: Ensure that reducing poverty and inequality is central to policy making and delivery in Scotland.

The Commission has a unique role in advising Scottish Government on how to reduce poverty and inequality and in scrutinising the progress that it makes. We plan to focus on ensuring that reducing poverty and inequality is central to policy making and delivery, and that this goes beyond policy areas that are traditionally focused on social justice to include all policy areas that have a contribution to make.

Strategic Priority 2: Increase the impact of policies to reduce poverty and inequality by promoting better use of evidence in developing policies and measuring impact.

If Scotland is to reduce poverty and inequality then policy makers, funders and service providers need to be better at using evidence to make sure that the right action is being taken and funding is being invested in a way that delivers the most impact. This means using evidence to identify when to stop doing things if they aren’t working, as well as scaling up actions that are effective. It is a priority for us to promote better use of evidence, and to use evidence in our own advice and scrutiny to increase impact.

Strategic Priority 3: Advocate for a response to COVID-19 that addresses the structural causes of poverty and inequality.

COVID-19’s impact on our economy and our society will be felt for many years. The economic fallout is hitting those on the lowest incomes and in the least secure jobs the hardest, and we know that people who face existing inequalities because of race, gender and disability are being particularly impacted. Over the period of this strategic plan the Commission will advocate for a response to COVID-19 that does not just mitigate the impacts, but redesigns our economy to address structural inequalities.

Strategic Priority 4: Establish the Commission as an authoritative voice, and support a conversation that promotes dignity, challenges stigma, encourages action, and changes the narrative about poverty and inequality in Scotland.

We want to promote a conversation in Scotland that increases understanding of poverty and inequality and encourages everyone to play a role in taking action. There are lots of partners who need to be part of the solution to poverty in Scotland and we particularly want to encourage individuals and organisations that might not usually be part of a discussion about poverty to join the conversation.

We would welcome comments and feedback on our strategic plan and how we deliver the priorities within it. You can contact us at


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