[S]outh Lakeland District Council (SLDC) is working hard to alleviate the impact of poverty as struggling families face the cost of Christmas.
With renewed criticism of social mobility under the national spotlight, SLDC says a local strategy is being drawn up to help the most vulnerable.
SLDC has teamed up with almost 100 agencies, ranging from charities and churches to family support groups and foodbanks, to get a better understanding of the extent of poverty and focus on ways to address the root causes.
SLDC’s Leader, Councillor Giles Archibald, said: “Over the next few weeks families who already find it difficult to make ends meet will come under increasing financial pressure.
“Poverty appears to be on the increase in the area and this council feels a strong responsibility to do all it can to ease the burden of hardship.
“Greater social mobility means ending cycles of disadvantage, tackling patterns of inequality and taking a fresh approach to easing poverty.”
SLDC is working with key partners to produce an action plan designed to build greater financial resilience across the district.
Councillor Philip Dixon, SLDC’s Portfolio Holder for Public Health and Wellbeing, says the new approach will build on Cumbria County Council’s Anti-Poverty Strategy, giving it a more local focus.
“We have already identified specific group goals around homelessness prevention, targeting the hardest to reach individuals, debt advice, the use of a multi-agency referral system and more collaborative working.
“We have a lot of work to do but with more than 1,200 children under the age of 16 living in poverty and around 4,810 households classed as being ‘fuel poor’ or unable to keep warm on their income, we have a moral responsibility to do all we can to help our neighbours and others in our community,” said Cllr Dixon.
Last week SLDC’s Cabinet recommended continuation of a scheme that reduces the amount of Council Tax paid by the most vulnerable. The Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme, which has been in place since 2013, offers up to a 100% reduction for all eligible residents, supporting people on benefits or low incomes. Last year it helped more than 5,000 households, many of them pensioners.