When the Council’s budget was set back in February 2018, Bury Labour proposed an additional £200,000 to help tackle poverty and homelessness in our Borough. In response, a series of proposals have, and are continuing to be, developed, linked to the Borough’s refreshed anti-poverty strategy. Here is the latest information about how this much needed money is being spent.
The measures include:
1) Increasing the provision of dedicated debt advice to vulnerable residents. This will help with both current debt levels by providing advice around benefit claims to ensure people are claiming what they are entitled to, whilst also focusing on promoting earlier intervention given that a lot of people don’t volunteer to engage in financial management until it has already become debt management. This will be likely be through additional resource at the Council Tax Office at Whittaker Street and for the Citizen Advice.
2) Support for residents accessing digital services and improving skills, be it in terms of increasing confidence in using digital tools, or supporting the access to equipment such as through potential loans. This could be loaning equipment directly or through the Credit Union to borrow funds to purchase equipment.
3) Extra dedicated support to care leavers on sustaining housing tenancies. The Council has a duty as the corporate parent to young people who are leaving care. Moving to your first tenancy is difficult for young people and the management of bills and a property as well as moving into work. The worker would support young people and help them to ensure that they don’t fall into the poverty trap. Housing support will be provided to care leavers in Bury who may be at risk of unstable tenancies or homelessness due to their specific vulnerabilities.
4) Also on the topic of housing a proposal is being suggested to look at additional resource for a Housing Association Liaison worker to support customers that are leaving supported accommodation. The Housing Associations have a vast supply of properties in Bury and we need to ensure that the property allocation reduces family and individuals moving into poverty and homelessness. The post would also work with providers and residents affected by the review of floating support and supported accommodation.
5) Nutrition is a further area where the fund can provide support. This includes enabling the development of a sustainable food bank in Bury Town Centre whilst conversations are taking place with our colleague in the voluntary sector or promoting social and health eating, including addressing holiday hunger, with a focus on access to fresh produce and how to make the best use of this.
The proposals have been reviewed are being finalised to ensure suitable performance arrangements are in place so that it can be clearly shown how this funding is making a difference for local people.
Cllr Judith Kelly, Cabinet Member responsible for the Anti-Poverty Strategy, welcomed these measures saying: “It is absolutely essential that we do all we can to help our poorest and most vulnerable residents. Welfare reform, austerity measures and cuts to public services have hit the poorest the hardest. For too long, poorer families and places across the UK have been left behind by disproportionate economic growth and fewer opportunities. This is not acceptable. Bury Labour has made it clear that we will do all we can to combat this and the extra £200,000 will help us with that.”