Cheshire West and Chester Council to set up poverty truth commission

27 November 2015

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Cabinet unanimously voted to establish a Poverty Truth Commission.

The Commission, which has all party support, will be co-chaired by the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire David Briggs and a resident who is experiencing poverty.

Children and Families Cabinet Member Councillor Nicole Meardon pointed out that for men living in different parts of the Borough, there is a life expectancy difference of almost ten years.

Though the Borough experiences relatively low child poverty compared to England, at a very local level some small areas record rates in excess of 40 percent and 23 percent of residents are in work poverty according to the Living Wage Foundation.

Councillor Meardon told the meeting: “I think we can all agree that poverty is an important issue. It affects many of our residents and although Cheshire West might seem to be a fairly affluent area in the country, there are areas of real deprivation within our community.”

Councillor Meardon added about the Poverty Truth Commission: “It is no good going through the whole process if nothing changes at the end of it.

“It has to have an impact. It has to have outcomes that are going to improve the lives of our residents.” A report before Members stated that 20 percent of the Borough’s private sector homes do not meet the decent homes standard.
Cheshire West and Chester contains 26,224 vulnerable households of which 28 percent live in non-decent homes.

The issue of poverty and the setting up of a body to look into this had all party support at the February Council meeting.

Councillor Mike Jones told the meeting: “We are looking forward to getting into this particular subject; as it is a very important issue.

“There has been a lot of work done by the Council to try and support people living in poverty and this is an opportunity to really build on that work and make a real difference to peoples’ lives”. The Poverty Trust Commission will be supported by a Steering Group with cross party representation that will oversee the work, chaired by Councillor Reggie Jones.

External support and expertise will be provided by the Glasgow Poverty Truth Commission and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.   
The Commission will provide a forum for key partners and residents to identify solutions to addressing poverty in all its forms.

It is recognised that the Council plays a key role but also other agencies, local people and central government all need to be part of the solution.

The emphasis will be on prevention and shift from reactionary service prevention and intervention.

The Steering Group will begin its work imminently and the Commission will be established in September 2017. It is proposed that it will report back to Cabinet regularly and its report will be published to Cabinet and its partners in March 2018.

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