Scottish Borders Council to hold consultation on draft anti-poverty strategy

Scottish Borders Council is to hold a consultation on the draft Anti-Poverty Strategy that has been developed as part a Borders-wide commitment to supporting individuals, families and communities experiencing hardship, whether that is as a result of economic, fuel, housing, food, digital or any other type of poverty.

Development of the Strategy was agreed by elected members at the council meeting held on 25 September 2020.

A short term working group was tasked with reviewing the extent of poverty in the region and the impact that this has had on the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities, as well as on their financial, educational and other circumstances.

The group has been gathering information on the range of initiatives and projects already working to support people experiencing poverty, as well as studying best practice examples and approaches taken by other local authority areas and reflecting on a variety of specific COVID-19 impact reports published nationally.

Input has also been provided by partner organisations such as Citizens Advice Borders and Registered Social Landlords, as well as Third Sector and Voluntary agencies, to ensure their knowledge of the local picture is included.

Approval for the draft Strategy to go to consultation was given at the council meeting held yesterday.

The consultation itself will be held from March to May 2021, details to be announced through the council’s website and social media channels in due course.

The Strategy will be supported by an Action Plan to be developed once the results of the consultation have been taken into account. The final documents will be presented to council for approval in June 2021.

Councillor Robin Tatler, SBC’s executive member for community development and localities, said: “There is already some extremely good work being undertaken to combat the effects of poverty on individuals and families in our local communities. However, we know there is much more that can and needs to be done, especially with the ongoing impact of COVID-19. This draft Strategy is a significantly important step towards that aim.

“Our vision for the strategy is ambitious, namely ‘we want a Scottish Borders where no-one lives in poverty and we want everyone to be able to achieve their full potential and feel healthy, happy and valued’ and while we are very conscious of the many challenges that face our residents and our communities, especially at this time, we believe we have a responsibility to do all we can to support them.

“We also believe that by working together with our partners, sharing resources and pooling our knowledge and strengths, we can develop a forward-thinking, sustainable approach to tackling poverty that will benefit us all.

“What we need now is for as many people as possible to have a look at the draft Strategy and then take part in the consultation once it goes live. We are particularly keen to hear from anyone with a direct lived experience of poverty. Their input is key to informing our decision making and making sure that we put in place appropriate measures and solutions that will have a real impact and make a genuine difference to people’s lives.”

Councillor Tatler added: “We would also remind people that there is already a great deal of advice, information and support available and people shouldn’t hesitate to get in touch to see how we, and our partner agencies, may be able to help.”

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