Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Scotland`s first adviser on poverty and inequality

In 2006, the Social Exclusion Unit merged with the Prime Minister`s Strategy Unit. The task force aimed to ensure that Government departments work together to deliver services. The director at the time was Naomi Eisenstadt.

The Strategy Unit "concentrates on preventative policies for hard to reach children and families deemed to have been immune from the government` drive against social exclusion to date."

The Social Exclusion Programme is the equivalent in Scotland.


According to the Scottish Government website: "Naomi Eisenstadt, an expert in the impact poverty has on children, will become the First Minister’s independent adviser on poverty and inequality, recommending actions needed to tackle poverty and holding the government’s performance to account."

Given Naomi Eisenstadt`s Cabinet Office connection, that is a very strange use of the term `independent`.

Here she is speaking to the Herald:

"Scotland's first poverty adviser has attacked plans by the UK Government to redefine the definitions used to measure child poverty as "wicked".

"Naomi Eisenstadt (CORR), a leading Oxford academic who was appointed by the Scottish Government last week, said any moves to try to use measures such as debt and drink and drug addiction to assess poverty would be shifting responsibility from government to families."

"The current definition of poverty is whether a child lives in a household which has an income less than 60% of the minimum wage..."

"The Conservative manifesto alluded to introducing better measures based on "root causes" of poverty - such as "entrenched worklessness, family breakdown, problem debt and drug and alcohol dependency..."

"These are indicators which have a judgemental nature to people`s behaviour - that are saying if you are poor it is your own fault and if only you stay married and not take drugs everything would be okay."

Here she is in 2013 talking about the Early Years Collaborative in Scotland:

"We talked about the issue of grandparent care which is occasionally raised in England as a partial solution to the childcare provision gap. I have three concerns on grandparent care: 1) it can replicate class disadvantage, in that the home learning environment of the grandparents is likely to be similar to that of the parents; 2) the grandparents themselves are often of working age and should be in paid employment; and 3) the sensitive issue of child safeguarding within family care."

That seems a bit judgemental to me.

Don`t expect changes in the early intervention approach to poverty any time soon.

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