People who live in poverty over a period have worse life outcomes than other people.
This is shown in the inequality of life expectancy. Richer people live on average 9 years longer than those who are disadvantaged. Poverty impacts mental health as well as physical health. There is a price to pay for poverty, in terms of impacts on the welfare state, on health, on schools, on family life.
People become poor for a variety of reasons- bereavement, divorce, family illness, redundancy. It could happen to any of us. Most of us are just three pay cheques away.
A recent phenomenon is the increase of in work poverty. 1/3 of people using food banks work for their poverty. Working life in Northampton is characterised by under employment, zero hours contracts, short term contracts, pretend self-employment. If you are poor, a mortgage is out of the question, and it is hard to find a decent place to rent. If you are poor, holidays, days out, treats are out of the question.
There are 18,000 children living in poverty in Northampton. This is a disgrace. Every child deserves a fair start in life. Children who are poor are turning up at school hungry. They cannot have friends round to play. They cannot access sports, swimming, leisure activities.
What can be done about it?
Labour councillors are campaigning for the Borough Council to develop an anti-poverty strategy.
This will look at ways the council can support people who are in poverty. It will identify support to help people out of poverty. It will look at measures that can be put into place to stop people becoming poor in the first place.
Cllr. Jane Birch (Labour, Trinity), says:
“We need to build a healthier local economy where everyone gets a fair day pay for a fair days work. The Borough pays the Living Wage Foundation’s Living Wage. We should be encouraging all employers to do that.
Families need to limit debt and maximise incomes. To do that they need access to advice. We need to restore grants to the voluntary sector to enable them to deliver this vital work.
Children need a range of support. No child should be living in temporary accommodation. All children should have a healthy breakfast, a healthy lunch, and a cooked evening meal.
If we all pull together it can be done. Other local authorities have an anti -poverty strategy. We can have one too. That is what I shall be arguing for at the council meeting on July 22nd.”
Cllr. Gareth Eales (Labour, Spencer) says:
"There are a range of different factors which contribute to poverty, some of which local authorities are not able to control directly. However, all Councillors regardless of political affiliations should be committed to taking action, working in partnership with other organisations where there are opportunities to do so. The aim of this proposed strategy is to improve the standard of living and daily lives of those residents in Northampton who are currently experiencing poverty, but also to alleviate issues that can lead households on low incomes to experience financial pressures. I hope that this motion will be received in a mature fashion and embraced by all elected members."
Here is the motion being proposed on 22nd July at NBC
This Council recognises that poverty, as an issue in the county, has a major impact on the life chances of our citizens. We have 18,000 plus children living in poverty. We are seeing an increasing number of our elderly, vulnerable residents living in poverty.
We will therefore, working with partners and services, develop an anti-poverty strategy that will:
· seek to prevent people and families becoming poor,
· support people and families with appropriate measures when they are poor,
· support people to maximise their income to get them, and the following generation, out of poverty.
This strategy will be offered to the new Unitary Authority as a working document.
Proposed by Cllr. J Birch
Seconded by Cllr. G Eales