Perth & Kinross Fairness Commission

Introduction

In 2016, Perth and Kinross Community Planning Partnership established a Fairness Commission to learn more about how people living in the area experience poverty and inequality in their everyday lives, and the circumstances which prevent people from reaching their full potential. The Commission is made up of 11 independent commissioners from outside Perth and Kinross who conducted intensive research with local people and services about how to make Perth and Kinross fairer for everybody. After listening to the professional and personal experiences and observations of as many people as possible within the area, the Fairer Futures report was launched on 4 July 2017.

The report offers recommendations to the Community Planning Partnership, and everyone else within Perth and Kinross, which will help to address the challenges that people are facing within our communities. The report also highlighted areas of good practice that are helping people, and should be more widely implemented across the area. They came up with five themes, outlined below. For each theme, they identified key challenges, and what would make a difference. This evidence base is a helpful tool for the Action Partnerships.

Fairer Futures Themes

Fairness Perth and Kinross: People, Place and Equality 

The Commissioners found that Perth and Kinross is generally thought to be an affluent area, meaning that the detail of inequalities is often hidden. They found that one in seven households in the region are considered to be amongst the most socially and financially challenged in the UK. The rurality of the area was also identified as a challenge to accessing services, sometimes because people don’t actually know what is available to them. The diverse nature of the communities in the region also has an impact, particularly where people do not speak English as a first language.

The stigma around poverty was highlighted as a significant barrier to seeking help; the affluent nature of much of Perth and Kinross makes this a key challenge. The commissioners did highlight the vibrant third sector in Perth and Kinross, working with communities on projects of all shapes and sizes.

What would make a difference?

  • Services working more closely with one another and with communities to understand challenges and deliver joined-up solutions.
  • Developing a greater understanding of the potential assets and resources communities already have.
  • Organisations developing their workforce to provide respectful, dignified and person-centred delivery; in particular, staff should have a better understanding of the role of money and how to talk about it.
  • Better translation and interpretation support across all sectors.

A Strong Start: An equal footing for life chances, choices and confidence

The commission found that around one in five children in Perth and Kinross live in poverty. The majority of these children live in a family where at least one adult works. They also found that one in five children in the area do not meet their development milestones at their 27-30 month review. This gap in development widens as children get older. A key issue is that troubled families are engaged with by many different services, which can cause confusion.

Later in life, the commission found that a wide range of learning opportunities are available; however these lack flexibility in the choice of vocational and academic subjects. Other concerns included the cost of the school day; the strain associated with holiday periods; and equal access to work experience. The commission also identified Looked after Children as a specific group whose needs could be better met, particularly with regard to transition stages in life.

What would make a difference?

  • More joint working leading to better connected early engagement with families.
  • Developing a clear picture of the costs associated with school, including participation in extra-curricular activities.
  • Every child leaving school with an agreed level of experiences, opportunities, skills and qualifications.
  • Guaranteeing a positive destination for all care experienced young people at 16-18 years old.

Fairer Working Lives: Opportunity, Security, Respect

The commission heard from the people of Perth and Kinorss that having a job has wider benefits than earning a wage; it provides people with a sense of purpose, friends and a sense of community, and the opportunity to develop as an individual. Although unemployment is low, one in 10 working age households receive some kind of benefit. In work poverty is a growing issue, with average earnings 9% lower than the rest of Scotland. This is in part due to the seasonal and low paid nature of dominant industries; tourism, hospitality and agriculture.

The uptake of early learning and childcare is high (95%) but the commissioners heard that it is not as flexible as it needs to be. The cost of full time childcare is unsustainable for those in low paid employment. They also found that there needs to be more recognition of unpaid experiences such as caring responsibilities and volunteering amongst recruiters.

What would make a difference?

  • Working with businesses and employers to make sure employees have an appropriate say in decisions which affect them.
  • Calling on local businesses to revisit their approach to providing job security and, where possible, paying the living wage.
  • Promoting family friendly working practices and high-quality, affordable childcare.
  • Proactively addressing the stigma attached to a range of life circumstances.
  • Recognition of the value people with volunteering and caring experience can bring to the workplace.

A Thriving Third Age: Living Well, Belonging, Contributing

Currently 11,000 people aged 65 and over live alone in Perth and Kinross, and this is expected to increase in the coming years. There are significant health inequalities between individuals in this age range, with those in affluent areas living longer. Work being undertaken by communities to support older people also tends to be concentrated in these affluent areas. Social isolation was also found to be a significant issue.

A growing number of older people are also becoming unpaid carers for spouses and other loved ones, and commissioners found these people need more support and recognition. Commissioners heard of the stigma associated with care homes, which in some cases prevent people making this choice.

In contrast to these challenges, many people are living longer than ever and requiring little to no support until much later in life. These people are a great asset to communities, and want to feel valued and be able to continue to contribute to their communities.

What would make a difference?

  • A more co-ordinated approach to provision of services to promote health and wellbeing.
  • Pro-active development of new solutions and models of care by services and communities working together.
  • Further development of socially inclusive, inter-generational and cultural activities to reduce isolation and share skills.
  • Better recognition of the role of unpaid carers and service provision to help them face challenges.

Better Connected: Services, Transport, Digital Lives

Services: The people the commissioners spoke to repeatedly mentioned having to explain their situation several times to different people. They also mentioned not knowing what services are on offer or what choices they have. The bureaucracy associated with getting help was identified as a barrier.  The language services provided are also a significant factor.

Transport: For the two thirds of people living outside Perth City, transport was highlighted as a significant issue. This was amplified in situations where people did not have access to a car or had a disability. The commission heard that some communities were coming up with their own innovative transport solutions.

Digital Lives: The availability of more services and information online, whilst helpful for some, creates an additional barrier for those who do not have the skills or access to technology. In many rural parts of Perth and Kinross, broadband is unavailable and mobile coverage is poor. There is a real risk that those who could benefit most from being connected are being left behind.

What would make a difference?

  • Co-locating services and/or providing a single point of contact for families.
  • Prioritising delivering broadband to areas where coverage would make the biggest difference to service delivery.
  • New solutions/models of public and community transport.
  • A greater number of safe and affordable places to meet socially would be helpful for those experiencing isolation.

More Information

Community Planning Partnership – Fairer Futures

Perth Kinross Council- Fairness Commission 

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