At the meeting of Dumfries and Galloway Council next week (25 June), Councillors will be asked to approve the new Anti-Poverty Strategy.
The strategy sets out what the council will do to improve the lives of people in this region experiencing poverty, in all its forms. There is not a single, specific area in Dumfries and Galloway that suffers from poverty. There are pockets of people in poverty in every area within the region, even the more affluent areas. The strategy aims to tackle this through by creating actions that will address the causes of poverty, not just solutions for certain areas.
Accompanying the strategy is an action plan that outlines a number of new projects aimed at tackling poverty. Some key projects included in the plan are:
Promotion of the Living Wage
Reducing the costs of the ‘school day’
Improved advice services
Grants for home improvements
Support for meal providers
Expanded discount travel
As part of the budget setting process, Councillors agreed that a minimum of £500,000 of policy development funding for this year was allocated to a number of projects that contribute to tackling poverty. £42,000 of this was specifically targeted at initiatives that tackled poverty: poverty awareness in schools; promotion of the Living Wage and developing signposting for those who need support.
A council spokesman said: “The Council will work alongside its community planning partners to develop a partnership approach to delivering the action plan. This will includes representatives of communities facing different types of poverty. By working together, we can ensure that our poverty activity is developed by and with people facing these barriers and issues.”
Council Leader, Ronnie Nicholson, added: “When I became Council Leader, one of the first commitments I made was to develop an Anti-Poverty Strategy for our region. I am pleased that this strategy will be presented to Councillors next week. The strategy is ambitious – we have to be ambitious; we have to be committed; and we have to work hard to ensure that this strategy delivers for the people of Dumfries and Galloway and makes a real difference to their lives. The strategy develops the leadership role of the Council, using its position and influence to ensure that all sectors and organisations work together on addressing the issues. In taking on this role, we are setting the bar for other partners at national and local level. We are clear what we can do as a Council but it is also important that we ensure our Scottish and UK Governments are working just as hard to improve the lives of the people in Dumfries and Galloway.”
“We have carried out a number of workshops across the region and listened to what people told us about their experiences of poverty and how they wanted to be supported. We have listened to what they have said and developed our Action Plan to deliver solutions that will make a real difference to local people and communities. We are committed to supporting people in poverty, helping people escape poverty and preventing people from falling into poverty.
“The Council has been working with a number of local companies to encourage them to commit to paying the Living Wage. It is positive that across our region, a number of employers are signing up to be Living Wage Employers. Feedback from some of these companies has shown that this has been beneficial - employees are more satisfied and staff turnover has reduced.”