A battle plan to fight poverty driven by welfare cuts has been drawn up by council officers.
Hyndburn’s Communities and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee has created a 13-point plan to tackle the causes and consequences of poverty in the area.
The plan was presented to Hyndburn’s cabinet on Wednesday, December 3 and earned praise from council bosses, who will now consider the best way to move forward with the proposals.
The scrutiny committee identified welfare reform as ‘the leading cause’ of poverty in the borough.
The report to cabinet said: “All agencies consulted with agreed that welfare reform was a leading cause of people suffering from poverty locally, particularly spare room subsidy and council tax benefit being replaced by Council Tax Support.
“There has been a rapid increase in food poverty, with more people becoming reliant on food parcels from food banks.
“There are clearly areas of the borough which are affected by poverty more than others.
“However, there are many instances of poverty in Hyndburn’s more affluent wards.”
The plan calls for housing associations to make provision for more one bedroom flats in order to increase housing stock and help those most affected by the spare room subsidy, known as the bedroom tax.
It also suggests that councillors should act as referral agents for food parcels, stating that ‘if councillors were able to offer a direct referral into the food bank for those most in need, this would prevent some customers being passed through multiple agencies.’
Other suggestions in the report included better signposting of agencies to help those in need and also ensuring the council works more closely with services like Hyndburn Citizens Advice Bureau to offer support.
Speaking at the cabinet meeting, Coun Kerry Molineux, chairman of the Communities and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee, thanked all those who contributed to the report.
She said: “Everyone has worked extremely hard on this. It goes some way to addressing the council’s responsibilities, but it’s not going to get rid of the issue of poverty.
“The council will meet with the relevant officers and see how easy and cost effective it is to implement and we will have a review in 12 months to see how effective it has been.”
Coun Pam Barton, portfolio holder for Health and Communities, said: “This is excellent work, we will now look at the proposals in detail.”