IT was certainly an ambitious commitment. When Scotland signed up to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 we pledged to leave no-one behind. The Global Goals provide an ambitious roadmap for a healthy planet for present and future generations and for a world free from poverty, injustice and discrimination – and all by 2030. Five years after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon committed Scotland to delivering on this bold vision, civil society in Scotland is rightly asking, are we on target?

Reading the snapshot assessments provided by organisations working on each goal in Scotland, I was struck by a cross-cutting theme: how many of the goals could be expressed in terms of inequality. The contributions highlight: geographical inequalities; health inequalities; inequality between different groups based on gender, race, ability; and, in particular, wealth inequalities. Taken together, it is clear that the negative effects of slow progress on the goals are felt more acutely by low-income households. In short, we’re at risk of missing our target to leave no-one behind.

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Take economic inequality as an example: this is extreme and growing at global level, and Scotland is far from immune. Despite welcome policy attention on poverty and inequality in Scotland, we’ve yet to deliver meaningful reductions in the gap between rich and poor. In fact, the incomes of the top 10% of the population are over a quarter more than the bottom 40% put together. Far from narrowing, income inequality in Scotland is deepening.

And that’s true for the distribution of wealth too – including financial, property, pensions and physical wealth. In fact, wealth is even more unequally distributed. The most recent figures show that wealth held by the top 10% of Scottish households was around five times greater than the wealth of the bottom half of all households combined. And those at the sharp end often have no wealth at all: Bank of Scotland research has found that a fifth of Scots do not have any personal savings, putting them at greater risk if they experience financial shocks.

Geographical distribution of wealth is also extremely uneven, especially property wealth. For example, the average house price in the city of Edinburgh is more than double that of North Lanarkshire. This wealth is passed on from generation-to-generation, concentrating wealth in some areas and regions more than others. So, we’re also at risk of leaving entire areas, as well as individuals within them, behind.

It is time to ask ourselves if this is the way we want to share the collective wealth of our nation. Polling by Oxfam Scotland in 2017 suggested that three-quarters of people in Scotland favoured wealth being shared more equally and just under two-thirds – 64% – believed politicians should do more to deliver this. So, what’s to be done? Although many important levers remain reserved to Westminster, the Scottish Parliament does have significant powers which should be used to their full extent. This has been demonstrated just this week through the Scottish Government’s highly encouraging commitment to bring forward a new Scottish Child Payment – a move that will put £10 into the pockets of every low-income household in Scotland for every child – shows a willingness to think differently. This is a hugely welcome commitment which will make a real difference to households in poverty, and especially women, who are more likely to experience poverty than men.

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While focused on reducing child poverty, the new Scottish Child Payment also has the potential to support efforts to reduce economic inequalities. To do that, we must ensure the spending decisions taken to deliver this important investment and the

levers used to raise more funds remain firmly in line with one of the cornerstones of Scotland’s economic strategy: to reduce inequality.

To put this in perspective, across the UK, since 2000, combined wealth taxes have remained relatively static at around 3% of GDP. Over the same period, wealth as a proportion of GDP has risen from 500% to an eye watering 700%. In Scotland, it is time to take the concentration of wealth seriously. Tax powers exist in Scotland beyond income tax and these should be explored as a tool to redistribute wealth more evenly.

The SDGs provide us with the roadmap for a fairer, healthier and more sustainable Scotland. Now we need to go on that journey while ensuring we take everyone with us. Everyone should reap the rewards. To do that, we need clear actions that reduce inequality, deliver inclusive growth and leave no-one behind.

Rhiannon Sims is policy and research adviser at Oxfam Scotland, and authored Oxfam’s inequality goal response