Glasgow Times

‘ I want to c economy’, Create thriving says Forbes

- BY STEWART PATERSON Tomorrow: Ash Regan interview

GROWING a thriving economy is crucial to solving Glasgow’s social problems, Kate Forbes has said. The contender to be the next first minister has put the economy at the heart of her leadership bid.

In an interview with the Glasgow Times, the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP said more adaptable public services were needed to deal effectivel­y with Glasgow’s issues.

On tackling poverty, in a week when new figures showed little or no progress in reducing the number of children in poverty, she said it was a “disgrace” and would be her government’s priority if first minister.

Forbes, who is currently finance secretary, said: “The approach I’ve taken to multiple budgets over the last few years is to make eradicatin­g poverty one of the overarchin­g missions of government.

“So rather than leave poverty to one part of government it has to run through everything we do. And, it has to run through everything the local authority does as well.”

Education and work were, she said, the key routes out of poverty.

She added: “First in terms of using education as a means to lift or break the multigener­ational cycle of poverty and that comes down to the poverty- related attainment gap. We basically need to do more in that regard.

“If you look at some of the schemes that have worked, for example the London Challenge, I think there are lessons to be learned for what we adopt in Glasgow where we’re very intentiona­l in working with specific schools with the highest levels of deprivatio­n in order to ensure the specific funding, the specific resources and additional teachers deal with that.”

Better paid jobs were also crucial, she said.

Forbes said: “Second, ensure we are working with households and families to get them into well paid, secure employment.

“Again, too many people are in work and still in poverty. That all comes down to fair work and ensuring there are well paid secure work

opportunit­ies and that comes from a thriving economy.”

The economy was also key to her idea of funding local councils properly.

She said removing ring- fencing was needed so the council can decide what it spends money on.

However, she acknowledg­ed that “doesn’t necessaril­y create a bigger pot of funding”.

So, Forbes wants to create more cash in the country to spend on priorities.

She said: “The key for me is having a growing prosperous economy.

“You can’t redistribu­te wealth until you create wealth and you have to create wealth in Scotland in order to distribute it to our public services into local government.

“I’d be focusing on supporting local businesses and supporting our key industries to grow and prosper and in turn that obviously creates well paid, secure jobs as well as creating more public revenue.”

More flexible and “nimble” public services were needed to tackle two of Glasgow’s biggest challenges.

On homelessne­ss, Forbes said it can be ended.

She said: “We can end it and we need to end it. The example I use for that is we were almost able to end it during Covid, so that demonstrat­es the art of the possible.”

She added: “One of the reasons Glasgow City Mission and others are on the front line helping people are as charities they can be a lot more flexible and adaptable.

“Too often our public services are not as adaptable. So where somebody needs mental health provision they can’t be expected to wait weeks or months for that mental health support.

“When there’s substance abuse or alcohol or drug abuse they often need help immediatel­y.”

Providing and building the right type of housing was needed, she said, to get people out of temporary accommodat­ion and into their own settled homes.

Forbes said: “That comes from making sure there’s a sufficient supply of the right kind of housing.

“The key when it comes to ending homelessne­ss is understand­ing what individual­s need and want and building it around the individual’s need and want.”

To end drug deaths a reform of services is needed and making more use of the third sector to ensure treatment is tailored to individual­s.

Forbes said: “You can’t just treat the drug misuse in isolation to everything else. It needs to be that wraparound support that a lot of third sector organisati­ons are just brilliant at providing.”

She added: “I think we need to have a jigsaw of support because the greatest danger of dealing with drug abuse and drug deaths is you have one size that you expect will fit all and that does not work.

“There are going to be different services required for different people.

“Again, I would want to come in behind those third sector organisati­ons, those teams that are doing exceptiona­l work and back them financiall­y.

“Similar to my point on homelessne­ss, substance abuse is often just one part of the challenge someone is facing and the health challenges, as well as the homelessne­ss, is all part of a package of support that needs to be provided to that individual.”

 ?? ??
 ?? ??
 ?? ??
 ?? ?? Kate Forbes has put the economy at the heart of her leadership bid and wants to focus on getting people out of poverty
Kate Forbes has put the economy at the heart of her leadership bid and wants to focus on getting people out of poverty

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom