Dundee City Council joins campaign against welfare stigma

DSC_9310Dundee City Council is set to become the first local authority in Scotland to sign up to a campaign which aims to tackle the stigma encountered by many people living on low incomes.

The council is being recommended to sign up to the Poverty Alliance’s Stick Your Labels Campaign, the details of which will be considered by the policy and resources committee on Monday September 14.

The campaign aims to address the negative and stigmatising attitudes that blight the lives of thousands of people living on low incomes amid a hardening of attitudes towards welfare and an increased use of stigmatising language in the media and from politicians.

According to the campaign, people living on low incomes are regularly labelled as ‘cheats’, ‘scroungers’ and ‘skivers’ while the reality is very different, with people doing all they can to make ends meet in difficult circumstances.

The campaign is encouraging organisations from the private, public and voluntary sectors to commit themselves to a series of statements and take the action needed to help change beliefs about poverty.

These are:

  • Poverty is not inevitable: it is a problem of political choices, it is neither natural nor acceptable. We all have a role to play in addressing poverty: We will set out our contribution to tackling poverty in Scotland.
  • Attitudes matter: How we talk about poverty and how we portray it can stigmatise and harm people: We will never use language that may stigmatise people experiencing poverty.
  • Actions change attitudes: To change beliefs about poverty requires action across our whole society: We will develop actions that help address negative attitudes towards people experiencing poverty.
  • Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “The Stick Your Labels campaign is about challenging the myths that surround poverty, and ending the stigma that people experiencing poverty often face.

    “Much of the language that is now used to refer to those claiming social security benefits is has the intention to stigmatise and separate, making people feel less worthy and having no right to support.

    “Public bodies like local authorities can play an important role in shifting attitudes towards people living on low incomes. They are in a position to challenge the myths that exist about poverty, and to change the experience of those who use their services. Dundee City Council should be congratulated for leading the way in taking action to tackle stigma. Their commitment will ensure that people are able to access the services they need, and will develop a real commitment across Dundee to tackling poverty.”

    Ken Guild, leader of Dundee City Council, added: “I am delighted that the policy and resources committee is being given the opportunity to sign up to the Stick Your Labels Campaign.

    “We will be looking to report this to the Dundee Fairness Commission later this month, and full report on the action to be taken to support would be considered by the policy and resources committee in November.

    “Dundee City Council and its partners are committed to helping find solutions to poverty and help people to have better life chances. I condemn any language that stigmatises those who are suffering from poverty.”



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