Sturgeon appoints senior researcher as poverty adviser

The Scottish Government’s efforts to alleviate poverty and tackle inequality will be subject to independent scrutiny by a new adviser, appointed today by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

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.

In a wide-ranging remit, Ms Eisenstadt (pictured), who is a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford and trustee of Save the Children, will also help to lead the debate on addressing poverty in Scotland, raise awareness of the realities of living in poverty and report to Scottish ministers on how to alleviate the problem across the country.

The announcement was made during a visit to Cyrenians Good Food depot in Leith,prior to a special meeting of the Scottish Government’s Cabinet, held at The Bethany Trust in Edinburgh and attended by Ms Eisenstadt.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Scotland is a wealthy country – but around one in six people are currently living in poverty. That is completely unacceptable.

“We are seeing some progress in reducing inequality but not nearly enough. And with £12 billion of annual welfare cuts due to be announced in the UK Government’s Emergency Budget, making an impact is likely to be even more challenging.

“My main priority IS making sure that everyone has the chance to get on in life, regardless of where they are from. The scrutiny and input of an independent expert will help to make sure – and provide assurance to the public – that we are doing absolutely all we can to make Scotland a more equal society.”

Naomi Eisenstadt said: “This is a critical role and a tremendous opportunity to help make good things happen.

“While I am tremendously supportive of what the Scottish Government is trying to do, my role will be to scrutinise the detail and provide hard challenge when necessary. I am here to give my honest views about the whether the policies in place will help to reduce poverty and inequality in Scotland.

“I plan to hold Ministers to account and challenge everyone to come up with and new and innovative ways to tackle deep seated poverty.”

Ewan Aitken, CEO Cyrenians said: “We are pleased that the Scottish has prioritised the issues of poverty and inequality through the appointment of Naomi Eisenstadt ,as independent adviser on Poverty and Inequality. Every day Cyrenians see the human devastation caused by poverty and inequality through the work of our Good food depot and the many other projects we run, through which every year we journey with over 4500 vulnerable and homeless people.”

Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil said: “We are committed to creating a Scotland that is fair, equal and free from poverty. I have no doubt that Naomi will provide a valuable insight into how we can tackle the scourge of intergenerational poverty.

“Last week I launched the Fairer Scotland discussion, which is asking the nation how we can create a more equal society. Naomi’s appointment is very timely and fits in with our approach of sourcing ideas to tackle these deep-seated problems outwith Government.”


Naomi Eisenstadt is currently a senior research fellow at University of Oxford and Trustee at Save the Children.

After spending several years working first in nurseries and then in management positions in children’s charities, in 1999 Naomi became the first director of the UK Government’s Sure Start Unit, where she had responsibility for early education, childcare, parenting policy, and extended schools.

She then spent a year as the chief adviser on children’s services to the UK Government before acting as director of the Social Exclusion Task Force, leading the publication of Think Family, a series of policy proposals on the interaction of parent circumstances on their children’s outcomes.

Ms Eisenstadt’s key interests are in children’s services, poverty and its impact on children, and family policy.

More can be found on her University of Oxford biography here –