Plans to tackle poverty will be discussed by Calderdale Council’s Cabinet at the next meeting on Monday.
The Cabinet will be asked to consider the impact of welfare reform and to approve the development of an anti-poverty action plan, which would have a particular focus on reducing child poverty in Calderdale.
The plan will be developed based on analysis of data relating to child poverty in the borough, making sure that Council services are targeted where they are needed most and identifying where additional support is required.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhood Services, Coun Susan Press said: “Our priority is to reduce inequalities, both amongst adults and children.
“By giving children a good start in life we give them the opportunity to grow up to be confident, independent and resilient adults. This means making sure their childhood is free of the anxieties which poverty can bring - that they have a safe and secure home which is warm and where they have enough food that they can thrive.
“The anti-poverty action plan will make sure that all our Council services work together to tackle this important issue.”
Since 2010 the government has introduced a policy of welfare reform which is designed to reduce the number of people, including families, who are dependent on benefits and to encourage people into education and employment.
Changes include the introduction of the Spare Room Subsidy, Universal Credit and a benefit cap of £20,000 for couples and lone parents and £13,400 for single claimants.
Although employment rates in Calderdale have improved, and unemployment is reducing, local data suggests there has been an increase in the number of people affected by fuel poverty, child poverty, homelessness, rough sleeping and debt.
The Council has already introduced schemes to help residents adjust to the impact of welfare reform, either by providing additional financial support or by helping people become more financially resilient, such as the Local Council Tax Reduction scheme and the Discretionary Housing Payments scheme.
An additional fund of £95,000 per year was allocated within the budget by the Council to allow the Emergency Living Support scheme to continue. Any Calderdale resident aged 16 and above, who finds themselves in a situation which is out of their control, where they do not have the money to meet their immediate needs or those of their family is eligible to apply. Awards are usually given as a voucher for food and fuel.
A further £100,000 per year was identified in the Council’s budget to help tackle homelessness and destitution.
The Council also works with partners including Calderdale DART, Citizens Advice Calderdale and Healthy Minds Consortium to help local residents become more financially resilient. This can include help in budgeting and applying for benefits, job searches and job applications and specialist support in battling addiction, mental health and homelessness.
The poverty action plan will build on the schemes which are currently being provided and will be delivered by services across the Council. It will be supported by the work already underway on inclusive growth, which is intended to make sure that everyone benefits from economic prosperity.
The report will be discussed at the next Cabinet meeting which will be held at 6pm on Monday March 19 at Halifax Town Hall.