New measures to fight poverty in 2009 and beyond
Cumbria County Council's cabinet has agreed to launch an anti-poverty strategy to help fight off the financial impact of the economic downturn.
At a cabinet meeting in Barrow today (January 6), councillors agreed that a concerted effort is needed to support individuals, families, and communities at risk in the current economic climate.
Measures already in the pipeline include:
- Proposed extra investment in the 2009/10 council budget to support debt advice and credit union activity.
- Tackling the problem of fuel poverty in the county by raising awareness of subsidies on offer in areas such as energy efficiency.
- Proposed extra investment in the 2009/10 council budget to reintroduce school clothing grants.
- An increased drive for the county council to procure goods, works and services from local suppliers wherever possible and within the requirements of the EU Procurement Directive.
- Proposed extra investment in the 2009/10 council budget to support further economic regeneration schemes.
Cllr Barbara Cannon, Cumbria County Council's cabinet member responsible for adult and cultural services, said:
"The current economic climate is forcing governments around the world to act quickly to protect jobs, the places that people live in and the standard of living that most of us wish to enjoy. The recession we are almost certainly in will be felt most by the most vulnerable in our society, so it's vital that local community leaders grasp the nettle and tackle this issue head on.
"To do this, we need to look at the bigger picture and have a wider anti-poverty strategy so that all the different parts of Cumbria County Council, from children's centres to the community room at the local fire station, are all ultimately striving for the same goals. We have always responded as a council to issues of concern, but we have never had a comprehensive policy strategy to specifically tackle poverty.
"The effects of poverty can be crippling: poor health; increased crime; a vicious circle of deprivation. We are not going to stand by and let that happen. We will be lobbying hard to rectify the inequalities that make Cumbria one of the country's worst affected areas for fuel poverty. We will be supporting local businesses and employers to navigate the troubled waters. We will do everything possible to keep council tax as low as possible in the next financial year.
"We have already been holding roadshows and local events on winter warmth and fuel efficiency alongside our partners in the health service, district councils and voluntary sector. We have already held an economic summit for local business leaders through the Cumbria Strategic Partnership to discuss how we can help them and how they can help themselves. And we are already reshaping the way economic regeneration works in Cumbria so it's better at delivering real improvements on the ground and putting cash into the pockets of the communities that need it most. The anti-poverty strategy will explore what else we can do and how else we can help."
Media enquiries to Gareth Cosslett, News Manager on 01228 226332