East Lothian Council

Challenging Perceptions, Overcoming Poverty

Published Friday 3rd March 17

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The East Lothian Poverty Commission Report has been launched

The East Lothian Poverty Commission (ELPC) launched its report ‘Challenging perceptions, Overcoming poverty’ at a public event in Tranent on Friday 25 February. The report sets out a number of findings and recommendations for tackling poverty in East Lothian.

The ELPC was established following cross-party agreement at a Cabinet meeting in late 2015. The aim of the commission was to bring together partners, communities and individuals to gather evidence to help tackle the causes and impact of poverty. It was proposed that the commission, which will have an independent chair, would consist of around six members.

In the first six months of 2016 the ELPC worked to gather as much information, evidence and opinion about poverty in East Lothian as possible which included speaking to local people experiencing poverty, holding themed sessions and inviting practitioners, local projects and national experts to share views and experiences about poverty.

East Lothian Council Leader, Councillor Willie Innes, said:

“Tackling poverty is at the core of the council’s focus and the work of the ELPC has given us the opportunity to shine a new spotlight on the issue right across the county and hear real life experiences of those living in very difficult circumstances. The personal stories I have heard at various events held by the Poverty Commission have made a real impact on me and my colleagues and I admire their courage in coming forward to shape the findings of the commission. I want to thank them for their involvement in the ELPC’s work and I would like to formally thank the commission for their dedication to this work and for framing poverty in a new way for us. Thinking about poverty as the right to dignity and a decent life is a powerful message for all our services to take on board as we go about our business.

“The report was discussed at a recent council meeting and gained cross party support for this important issue. I can confirm that tackling poverty and inequality will remain central to the work of the council over the coming months and years ahead.

“The council budget announced last week also sees significant investment areas which will improve the lives of local people. For example, a £144 million package of investment in council housing will be delivered over the next five years. This includes an £85 million programme of new council housing and almost £59 million of investment in modernisation and extensions to existing homes. There will also be a rolling programme of improvements to existing council houses. This includes refurbishments of bathrooms, kitchens and roofing and the installation of energy efficiency measures – in an effort to help reduce fuel poverty.

“Across all our work to tackle poverty, it is really important to talk about the issue. We need to remind ourselves to be conscious of the impact of our decisions on those who are experiencing poverty or vulnerable to falling into poverty. One element of the report that really struck me was the feelings of shame and burden felt by those experiencing poverty and the negative impact this has on mental health and wellbeing for families.”

At the launch, East Lothian Council signed the ‘Stick Your Labels’ Campaign pledge – committing the local authority to recognising that attitudes to poverty really matter and will work to change these attitudes by useful language that is inclusive, respectful and promotes dignity for all. Copies of the ELPC report Challenging perceptions. Overcoming poverty are available online at www.eastlothian.gov.uk


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