The Better Off: Anti-Poverty Strategy 2018/19 to 2022/23 has been developed by West Lothian Council and Community Planning partners.
The strategy aims to tackle poverty and takes into account the changes in society and reflects the challenges, constraints and opportunities in West Lothian over the next five years. The strategy sets out the council's ambition to take positive steps to address the financial pressures felt by residents, and to ensure that tackling poverty is at the centre of work within West Lothian.
Caption: Donald Forrest, head of Finance and Property Services joined staff from the Advice Shop at the launch of the new strategy
Donald Forrest, Head of Finance and Property Services said: "Tackling poverty, in particular child poverty, is a main priority for West Lothian Council. Working with our partners, we will continually seek to reduce poverty and improve the lives of those affected by poverty.
"This is an incredibly important area of work which will build upon the positive work that has been carried out over recent years, resulting in some real improvements."
The focus of the new strategy will be on households which are:
- Working but not earning enough
- Not working and on a very low income
- Just about managing
- Those not managing at all
The council's previous strategy set about minimising poverty and focussed on strengthening the ways in which partners worked together and ensured that actions and resources were targeted to help those most at risk.
Progress has been made over the past years:
- Partners have helped manage over £60 million of debt
- Supported customers gain £153 million of income through welfare rights advice and support to claim benefits and tax credits
- 1039 employment opportunities have been created for young people
- Nearly 5,400 adults have engaged with employability support resulting in 62% progressing to a positive destination including employment
Elaine Nisbett, the council's Anti-Poverty and Welfare Advice Manager said: "Despite this generally positive local context, poverty is still a significant issue for many households and communities. Like many other parts of Scotland West Lothian has experienced the impact of the credit crunch and subsequent recession. As part of the strategy, we have been speaking to households in our communities and those families have told us that reducing day to day living costs is important, and that is reflected within our new strategy."
If anyone would like to join our Expert by Experience Panel to discuss poverty issues affecting our communities, and what can be done to help, please get in touch with the council's Advice Shop on 01506 283000 - Option 4.