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The Poverty Emergency


Poverty Emergency - Rethinking Poverty. Rethinking Renewal.

A Fairer Future

In October 2020, elected members of the Council voted to declare a poverty emergency for the borough. This declaration sets out the importance of tackling poverty alongside climate change as part of a fairer, greener recovery from the pandemic.

Following the declaration, an extensive engagement exercise has taken place to shape the development of a new Fairer Future Strategy 2022/32. The final strategy, which has been co-produced with communities sets out an ambitious ten-year plan to reduce the number of people in the borough experiencing poverty and financial hardship.

If everyone plays their part, including the Council, local partners, business, residents and central Government by 2032 we aim to half the number of children living in absolute poverty. This would be a reduction of 3,634 children living in low-income families.

We want all local people to feel proud to live in an area committed to building a fairer future for all, where everyone understands and cares about social justice and where we all play our part to make sure people from all backgrounds have opportunities to improve their situation and quality of life throughout their lifetime.

The strategy sets out three pillars to build a fairer future

  • Voice - hearing the voices of people experiencing poverty and acting to address the issues they raise.
  • Alleviation - delivering urgent action to tackle the immediate consequences of poverty.
  • Root Cause - transforming society and the economy to tackle the underlying causes of poverty.
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This strategy builds on the legacy of our previous Poverty Truth Commissions, putting the voices of those with first-hand experience of poverty at the heart of our approach and sets out how we will work together to build a fairer future for all.
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Cllr Louise Gittins, Leader of the Council
Fairer Future Strategy 2022-23 (PDF, 668KB)

Through the declaration of a poverty emergency, the Council has made a commitment to tackling poverty in all its forms and at its roots, taking an evidence and lived experience-based approach to poverty reduction.

The Council has received formal backing of the Equalities Trust and is preparing to begin work with other interested councils, some of whom have recently secured their own Poverty Emergency declaration. As a Council we have an opportunity to lead on changes for our low-income residents and to put that at the forefront of how we work.

As part of the declaration a number of commitments were made which set the scene for a new approach to the issue of poverty with the aim of building a fairer and greener recovery across our borough and influencing permanent change.

The Council will:

  • Treat the issue of poverty as an equalities and fairness issue.
  • Work collectively to gather better quality evidence on the impacts of poverty, including the full range of disproportionate impacts of the crisis on those struggling on low incomes.
  • Put quality lived experience alongside quality evidence and partnership, including cross-council and cross-party partnership, at the heart of our approach.
  • Provide the spaces and opportunity for those affected by low income to gather, learn, strengthen and support one another in raising their democratic voice on the poverty-related issues that directly affect them, locally and nationally.
  • Explore routes to incorporate Community Wealth-Building and Collective Ownership approaches that address low income and environmental concerns within the Council's own provision and across the borough, with a focus on the communities most harshly economically impacted by the crisis.
  • Collaborate, work collectively and celebrate one another's successes across councils.
  • Put working together to solve the root causes of poverty at the heart of our agenda, recognising that poverty is not a lifestyle choice.

Fuel Poverty Strategy

Within our borough, it is estimated that over 18,000 households are currently experiencing fuel poverty. This is expected to increase given the cost-of-living crisis and effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, combined with the war in Ukraine.

The Office for National Statistics reports that these growing energy prices will disproportionality impact those with lower incomes, as they spend a higher proportion of their earnings on utility bills.

The Council wants to reduce the levels of fuel poverty in the borough to ensure that our residents can thrive, have happier and healthier lives, and achieve their potential. Fuel poverty is also very closely linked to our ambitions for addressing the climate emergency and building a thriving local economy.