[S]outh Lakeland District Council has pledged to do more to tackle the misery of poverty.
The council is working on a new strategy, called Tackling Poverty Together, liaising with key partners to help ease the burden of hardship across the district.
There will be a new focus on three main areas; understanding the nature and extent of poverty, helping those in immediate need and working to address the root causes.
Councillors attended a Tackling Poverty Workshop last December and are convinced a clear and collaborative approach with partner organisations will bring results.
SLDC’s leader, Councillor Giles Archibald, said: “Although many people enjoy comfortable and prosperous lives here in South Lakeland there are others who do not. There are pockets of real deprivation, poverty is all around us and things are getting worse. We must do all we can to ease the considerable pressure on those suffering significant hardship.
“First we need a better understanding of the scale of the problem and then we must take a fresh look at how we can reduce the impact of poverty. It is one of the biggest challenges facing us and, working closely with our partners, we are determined to ease the suffering of poverty.”
SLDC has now added the issue of poverty to the list of strategic priorities in its revised Council Plan.
Incomes tend to be lower than the national average in South Lakeland and the number of families on the lowest wages is increasing.
The most recent figures suggest there are more than 1,200 children under the age of 16 living in poverty and around 4,800 households are classed as “fuel poor” or unable to keep adequately warm on their income.
“In a prosperous town like Kendal we have a food bank which distributes more than 1,000 food parcels every month. We must now seize the opportunity to do whatever we can to help get people out of poverty and hardship,” added Cllr Archibald.
Councillors say the aftermath of Storm Desmond, which brought devastating floods to the area in December 2015, provided a greater understanding of how partner organisations can achieve more by working closely together.
SLDC will now liaise with Cumbria County Council, the NHS, the Local Enterprise Partnership, public health teams and other agencies to focus on the problem of poverty.