This week Argyll and Bute Council will join voices raised against poverty as it demonstrates what is being done to tackle poverty across the area.
It will take part in Challenge Poverty week, a campaign started by the Poverty Alliance to highlight the reality of poverty and challenge the stereotypes. The week will showcase the solutions to poverty and increase public support for action to solve the problem.
The council, in partnership with NHS Highland, published their Local Child Poverty Action Plan in June 2019. This highlights that 20.4% of our children (3106) live in poverty. While some areas of Argyll and Bute have higher levels of poverty than others we recognise that there are people living in poverty in all of our communities, and challenge the view that poverty can solely be determined by where you live.
Councillor Robin Currie, chair of the Financial Inclusion Advice Group, said: “Changing public perception of poverty is a key part of this week as is promoting the practical steps we are taking to tackle it.
“When we were putting the Child Poverty Action Plan together, we talked to school children and young people across Argyll and Bute. It was clear they understood the challenges of poverty and that it was not the fault of those in poverty. This is great news for the future.
“In 2018, 24% of employees (aged 18 plus) in Argyll and Bute were in receipt of less than the minimum wage, which is particularly worrying for lone mothers. The council will protect its employees by finalising proposals to bring the Scottish Government living wage into its pay and grading scale.”
The council is finding more and more ways to ensure that residents receive the benefits to which they are entitled
This includes identifying families who are eligible for school clothing grants for their children and providing the money directly to them, rather than waiting for applications to be made.
We are working hard to encourage the take up of free school meals, including extending on-line payment for school meals to all schools.
As a council, we have recognised that there is a link between domestic abuse and homelessness and poverty for women and children. For that reason, we have signed the Make a Stand pledge and we remain committed to preventing homelessness arising from domestic abuse.
Our new advice service has been developed to support the most vulnerable people in our community, while signposting others to the most appropriate help available. Income maximisation and benefits advice is delivering millions of pounds to those entitled to it, money that will be spent in local shops and businesses.
For those facing fuel poverty, ALIenergy provides free specialist, advice, home visits, and workshops as well as a website offering a range of other support services. Our HEEPS: ABS insulation programme is eligible for properties in council tax bands A-C. For households with an income of under £20,000 council tax band D properties are included.
Follow Challenge Poverty Week on Twitter @CPW_Scotland