South Lanarkshire councilors welcome plans to tackle poverty

South Lanarkshire councilors approved an action plan today to tackle poverty in the area.

Elected members at the executive committee meeting heard of the work carried out by the council’s Tackling Poverty Working group and welcomed its recommendations.

The cross-party working group was formed to tackle poverty in the area, and it held its first meeting in February 2020.

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Due to COVID, the group did not meet again until February 2021 when it considered action plans to address poverty and has since met five other times.

Councilor John Ross, chairman of the executive committee, praised the group’s efforts.

He said: “I think it’s been valuable from the point of view that members actually got to see what the council is doing and has been doing to tackle poverty.”

The group presented a range of recommendations which the future work of the council should reflect.

Firstly, the group suggests that the council should use the information gathered on the impact and lived experience of poverty to determine the best solutions which should be used to address poverty related issues.

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The council should also make use of the Fairer Scotland Duty as a means of ensuring all council services are held to account when it comes to reducing the impact of poverty on residents’ lives.

The group also recommended that the council should create an action plan to focus on how to coordinate this work and integrate it with other works both within the council and with external partners.

Over the seven meetings held by the group, a range of topics have been discussed with aims of targeting poverty.

Topics considered by the group include financial issues people face due to COVID, welfare support, child poverty and access to free sanitary provision amongst other issues.

To date, the group has gained an understanding of the contributions to the Tackling Poverty agenda from each of the resources within the council.

The group has considered this in the context of the data which is available around poverty and its impact.

The working group has also considered the lived experience feedback which has been provided from various groups who have experience with the impact of poverty along with examining the work of various partnership groups which address aspects of poverty related issues.

Clydesdale East councilor Alex Allison questioned the success of the group and its work over the years.

He said: “No objections to anything in the report, it’s just the fact that the group was decided four years ago, didn’t set up until a year later, didn’t meet until a year after that, and had seven meetings over the four years and what’s the outcome? Not actual outcomes.

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“I would have thought something as important as tackling poverty would have had a much more active time and actually be able to do something, just an observation.”

In response to this, chairwoman of the group and Clydesdale West councillor, Lynsey Hamilton, explained the delay the group faced and the importance of it.

Councilor Hamilton said: “COVID has held this up.

“This probably should have been quicker, but alongside the people that were on it with me, it was a very very useful forum to be on because it actually gave us an overview of what the council were doing and what each department were doing.

“We felt as the working group that actually we need to quantify and look at how the things that we do are impacting to see if we are spending the money at the right places.

“I do think that it has been a really useful project to do.”

Councillor for Clydesdale West, Eileen Logan, said: “I was lucky enough to be twice a substitute and I was very impressed by all the members of the group who worked closely together.”

The recommendations approved by the executive committee today will mean officers will now develop the action plan which contains specific actions including timescales and responsibilities to deliver the recommendations of the working group.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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