A NEW strategy to tackle poverty has been drawn up after Bassetlaw was ranked 61 out of 326 local authorities in England for its residents being at risk of poverty.
Bassetlaw Council endorsed the Anti Poverty Strategy at its Cabinet meeting last Wednesday, agreeing more time and resources should be deployed towards tackling the problem.
“We need this kind of strategy more than ever. We need something in place that will help alleviate some of the problems people encounter in this area,” said Coun David Pressley, cabinet member for community prosperity.
He suggested the authority ‘hadn’t seen anything yet’ in terms of cuts to benefits, with a new benefits system set to see more families and individuals put under pressure.
Poverty tends to be defined in the UK as a household with a combined income at least 60 per cent less than the average.
People living below this level are restricted in their ability to effectively participate in society.
Meanwhile, absolute poverty is defined as the lack of basic human needs like clean water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter.
Poverty maps drawn up from data by Experian this year show Bassetlaw came 61 out of 326 local authorities for risk of poverty, and 64 for risk of child poverty.
The council’s new strategy will build on existing initiatives over the next three years.
The Citizens Advice Bureau, Credit Union and NHS Bassetlaw Clinical Commissioning Group have already contributed to the strategy and will continue to work with the council.
But the report put before councillors last week stressed that simply alleviating poverty would not break the ‘persistent cycle of deprivation’.
The document said that anti-poverty work needed to be linked to regeneration, housing and economic development.
Coun Alan Rhodes, cabinet member for housing said: “This council cares about what is happening to people in our community and we want to work in partnership with other agencies to achieve better outcomes for those most in need.”
“The message that runs through this strategy is the support for partnership and caring for the most vulnerable in our society. And that applies across the political divide.”
Council leader Simon Greaves said the council was ‘on the side of the people’.
“Many people in Bassetlaw are going to have their living standards and incomes squeezed even more. It is right that the authority works with others to see what it can do to help,” he said.
He added that the strategy had already been ‘warmly received’ by the voluntary sector.
Councillors voted for the Anti Poverty Strategy to be put before the full council for final approval.
If approved, an action plan containing eight priority aims will guide its delivery.
They include encouraging economic regeneration through jobs and skills, financial education in schools, ensuring people know about and are getting the benefits they are entitled to, promoting access to free money advice and affordable credit, helping local businesses and their employees, supporting the voluntary sector and campaigning for affordable energy and public transport.