Whilst many residents in Reading are enjoying rising living standards in high skilled employment many residents and families are stuck in a poverty trap of low wages and increasing benefit cuts. Reading Borough are attempting to do everything it can to mitigate national government policy to squeeze working families and people on benefits. Below is a press release detailing what RBC is doing to alleviate poverty in families and individuals living in Reading.
Fighting to Bridge Gap between Rich and Poor
Reading Borough Council Press Release
THE GAP between rich and poor in Reading is highlighted in a new Council report which also sets out a strategy for tackling the causes and effects of poverty.
The report, called Tackling Poverty in Reading Strategy, will go to the Council’s Policy Committee on Monday, December 1.
It gives details of the extent of poverty in Reading and describes a range of measures that the Council, in partnership with other organisations in the town, plans to take - and is already taking - to tackle the problem.
The strategy has four aims:
• To improve the life chances of less well-off people
• To maximise the income of people who can’t work or are on low incomes
• To increase the employability and address low income by improving the skills of less well-off people and helping them into work
• To create sustainable communities and improve the quality of life of people living in them
The Council and its partners will carry out the strategy through a number of specific actions.
They will work to improve the life chances of children from less well-off backgrounds by:
• Broadening the skills and resources of partner organisations that work on developing young people’s communication skills
• Increasing attendance at two-year health reviews
• Raising awareness of services for families
• Supporting schools to improve standards further
They will help maximise the income of less well-off people by:
• Giving better support and training to people on claiming the benefits to which they are entitled
• Running a benefits take-up campaign to encourage residents to claim these benefits, especially older people, less well-off people who are working and disabled people
• Developing a digital inclusion plan that makes sure less well-off people aren’t left behind as more and more services are delivered online
They will help create sustainable communities and improve the quality of life of people living in them by:
• Improving communications about the help available from various agencies
• Developing training sessions that will help agencies work together
• Supporting the government’s fuel poverty strategy by draught-proofing and insulating homes and providing funding to do so
• Continuing the Financial Crisis Support Scheme until March 2016
• Working with Community Savings and Loans Berkshire to provide money management education for parents and children
• Increasing the visibility of credit unions
• Continuing to work with Stop the Loan Sharks to protect residents from illegal lenders
They will increase employability and address low income, by:
• Giving opportunities and support for volunteers engaged in helping people into employment
• Providing joined-up support that will help young people into work
• Training to build up people’s skills in applying for jobs
• Building on successful schemes helping people back to work, such as those offered to lone parents by New Directions and SITE
• Encouraging and supporting employers to achieve Living Wage accreditation
• Working with the Living Wage Foundation to review all contracts the Council gives to outside organisations
• Educating residents on the benefits of contract hour employment
The Tackling Poverty Strategy will be unveiled following on from tReading’s recent Narrowing the Gap conference, which was held on Tuesday, November 18.
The event looked at ways of closing the gap between the lives of the well-off and the less well-off in Reading. More than 200 people, including representatives from community and voluntary groups, organisations and businesses, as well as private individuals, attended the conference.
Cllr Jo Lovelock, Leader of Reading Borough Council, said:
“Reading has weathered the recent recession comparatively well, but the gulf between the well off and people on low incomes in Reading continues to grow year on year and should be of huge concern to everyone.
“Reading Borough Council has suffered large and sustained cuts in Government funding in the face of a massive increase in demand for our services, particularly for those families and individuals who, through no fault of their own, are struggling to make ends meet. Whilst we cannot change government policy, it is important that we seek to provide the best possible, coherent, local response in order to support Reading’s residents.
“We are determined to focus the resources we do have on giving support where it is most needed, and we believe our new Tackling Poverty strategy will go some way towards achieving that. But the Council cannot tackle poverty alone and we will, as always, work with our many excellent partners on this vital programme.”
Notes for Editors:
Reading Borough Council’s partners in delivering the Tackling Poverty in Reading Strategy are: Reading Advice Network, Berkshire Community Savings and Loans; Elevate Reading partnership; The Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) Breaking the Cycle of Poverty group; Reading UK CIC; Acre (Alliance for Cohesion and Racial Equality); Health and Wellbeing Board (Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Reading Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).
Reading Borough Council Press Releases can be found online at http://www.reading.gov.uk/news/pressreleases/