Action on Poverty (AOP) starts ‘no more dodging’ campaign


Gibraltar Chronicle Campaign ad 14/3/19

Action on Poverty (AOP), the anti-poverty umbrella group campaigning for modernisation and reform of the Social Security system, kicks off its community-based campaign tomorrow, Tuesday 8th October from 9.30am outside the ICC, where campaigners ‘will be distributing leaflets in both English and Spanish setting out the case for reform of what we consider to be an outdated, unacceptably secretive and inadequate Social Security system. Politicians cannot be allowed to dodge these issues anymore,’ Spokesman Felix Alvarez said.

‘‘It’s election time, and the political Parties would like us to believe their Manifesto promises in order to get our vote. We’re glad to see that AOP’s on-going campaign has succeeded in ensuring that all the Party Manifestoes, though in varying degrees, have had to address the reality of economically vulnerable people in our society and the need for a Social Security system overhaul.

But not all Manifestoes and promises are created equal in this regard, with some Parties, no matter how ‘progressive’, still trying to get away with putting off, side-lining or downright dodging the issues before the electorate. This is far from a respectful democratic response to Civil Society and we’re hoping their public and electoral posture will be corrected.

‘We’re urging people to pay close attention to who is actually stepping up to the plate on these issues, and then vote accordingly. Because it’s not only their lives, but those of their children and grandchildren that are also affected,’ Alvarez stated. ‘Vague words count for nothing if you are a low income pensioner, long- or short-term unemployed, young and dependent on family support, disabled, a one parent family, a carer or an otherwise income marginalised individual. Because, unlike words, their reality cannot and will not go away for political convenience. And it’s precisely in election Manifestoes that voters rightly expect to find clarity and commitment.

‘AOP notes the forthrightness with which the GSD Manifesto has tackled these issues, however. It stands out for having addressed them up front, without manoeuvres to avoid naming the problem in an attempt to bury it deep in other sections of their election Manifesto. And they have pointed out at least some of the solutions. As such, the GSD dedicates a whole section unambiguously headed ‘Social Security and Benefits Reform’ to identifying the problems, and in so doing adopts two core AOP Campaign demands; these being establishing a benchmark ‘Poverty Line’ below which no citizen must fall in order to guarantee a dignified living for all, whether in or out of work; and the systematic periodic review of same. The GSD’s approach is in stark contrast to the manner in which the question of poverty and the social security system’s reform has been diverted, obfuscated, softened or minimised elsewhere.

‘All that said,’ Mr. Alvarez added, ‘all the Parties bar none, and with a marked difference to other aspects of the policies they present in writing, fail to quantify or enumerate clear commitments beyond the very general. And in so doing they all fail to live up to their duty to serve all sectors of this community.

‘With our bilingual launch leaflets, distributed not only on Main Street but also throughout households in Gibraltar as well as widely via social media, we are therefore urging all voters to read all the Parties’ political propaganda at these elections, and think deeply before they vote. Because they, their children and their grandchildren and friends are affected by the social injustices around low income in a Gibraltar which is getting wealthier for the wealthy but more vulnerable for too many others,’ the statement closed.