A new approach to tackling poverty in Salford
Over the past decade, Salford has seen unprecedented levels of growth and investment; helping to create more new jobs and opportunities than ever before. But despite this success, it was clear that not everyone is sharing the benefits of this prosperity.
In 2016, Salford’s newly elected Mayor placed tackling poverty at the heart of his vision for ‘A Fairer and Better Salford’.
Confronted with evidence showing that in a classroom of 23 school children, 7 were likely to be living in financially distressed households, along with other challenging data on unemployment, homelessness and rough sleeping, the council and its partners were determined to act.
The way forward
The response was No One Left Behind, a new strategy for tackling poverty, which has pioneered new ways of addressing the issue.
Salford’s Poverty Truth Commission is at the heart of our strategy. The Commission brings together local people with lived experience of poverty and civic and business leaders to fundamentally change the way the city thinks and acts in tackling the issue.
Being a commissioner has given me insight into how grassroots can engage with the local community and local government to tackle issues of poverty, emotional and physical well-being, education, isolation and homelessness.
Letitia Rose, Poverty Truth Commissioner, Salford Poverty Truth Commission
Following its formation in July 2016, the council has worked tirelessly with the commissioners; listening to their personal and inspirational stories to better understand the challenges they face.
We have a fundamental belief that the only way poverty will be truly addressed is when those who experience it first-hand are at the heart of the policy process and redesigning services. This fundamental belief underpins everything we are doing across the city.
As a result, a number of hugely important and impactful changes have been co-produced in partnership with the Commission to better meet the needs of some of the city’s most vulnerable and financially distressed residents.
Among many significant changes we have made together include:
- Changing the way the council recovers debts from vulnerable households to ensure they are never subject to action from bailiffs – helping to protect around 25,000 people on low incomes.
- Providing earlier help for those experiencing financial difficulties, including the introduction of council tax coffee mornings so people can speak face to face with a specialist debt advisor about their concerns and financial issues. So far this has helped more than 200 to improve their financial situation.
- Exempted 53 young care leavers aged 18 to 21 from paying council tax to give them a boost into independence
- Improving the digital skills of up to 8,000 of our most disadvantaged residents to help them get the most out of the city’s growing digital opportunities.
- Paying all council employees at least the Living Wage Foundations real living wage – the only council in Greater Manchester to do so.
Salford City Council should be congratulated on its efforts to fight food poverty, and its willingness to support a coordinated approach to food crisis services.
Tom Togher, Salford Citizen’s Advice
As well as changing policy, the council has also channelled extra funding into services that play a vital role in tackling poverty, with £170,000 invested so far in Salford’s Credit Union to improve access to affordable credit; £300,000 in Salford’s local welfare assistance scheme; and an extra £75,000 in services to tackle food poverty.
There is no question that working with the Commission in this way, the council has transformed its approach to tackling poverty – placing people with lived experiences in a position to drive change. It has given much greater visibility to a crucial challenge faced by many areas of the UK; while strengthening the services relied on by people in financial distress.
So much so, that we were delighted that our innovative approach was announced as the winner of the, SCAPE sponsored, Delivering Better Outcomes category at the prestigious 2018 Municipal Journal Achievement Awards.
SCAPE are committed to helping the public sector drive innovation and find solutions to local issues that improve the lives of real people. If you want to share your experiences, positive outcomes or best practice, we would love to hear your stories, so please get in touch via MarketingTeam@scapegroup.co.uk.
Assistant Director, Policy and Performance, Salford City Council
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