Measures to Tackle Poverty in South Tyneside
Councillors will next week be asked to endorse a set of new recommendations to help ease the plight of those living in poverty in South Tyneside.
The People Select Committee started an in-depth investigation two years ago into poverty to make sure the Council is doing all it can do to support those living in difficult circumstances while helping people avoid falling into poverty in the first place. A number of recommendations have already been accepted. The Commission's final report will go before Cabinet for endorsement next week.
Members will be told that one of the earlier recommendations - to have a dedicated councillor responsible for poverty - has now been implemented with Councillor Ruth Berkley now having responsibility for food and fuel poverty in her portfolio.
To seek to combat food poverty, the Commission recommends that the financial benefits of reducing food wastage, cooking in batches and using leftovers should be promoted. Members also want to promote the development of community food pantries in addition to food banks. Another recommendation is for the Council to work with schools and the Youth Parliament to assess how healthy eating is reflected in school curriculums.
In an attempt to improve access to transport, councillors suggest writing to the Bus Forum to encourage them to consider reduced fares for those on a low income who need to travel to work, apprenticeships and training, and free travel for carers and children when accompanied by an adult. Councillors also recommend also asking bus companies and Nexus to consider a campaign highlighting travel options for those on a low income for essential journeys such as work and hospital appointments.
Members of the Cabinet will next week be told that raising aspirations of young people is key. They would like to see a more consistent approach to careers advice in schools with an equal focus on both academic and vocational careers. They also suggest staggering work experience throughout the year so that not all students are looking for placements at the same time.
Councillor Ruth Berkley, Lead Member for the Voluntary Sector, Partnerships and Equalities, said: "While this is the last report from the Poverty Commission this work will carry on for several years to come. With more than a quarter of our young people growing up in low-income families, and in light of the current cost of living crisis, this work is more urgent than ever.
"In line with our priority of supporting families and our older and vulnerable communities, it is vital that we continue this important work. We will do everything in our power to lift people out of poverty. That will not only help those individuals but the Borough as a whole as a reduction in poverty will lead to more local spend, higher demand for goods and more jobs."
A team has already been formed to turn the recommendations into action plans if agreed by Cabinet.
Cabinet will meet to discuss the report next Wednesday (10 August).
To find out more about cost of living support visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/costofliving