Tackling poverty – a view from Salford’s City Mayor
Recently Salford City Council and NHS Salford Clinical Commissioning Group announced a 10.7% pay rise for Salford’s care workers, boosting their pay to £8.30 per hour. The move will cost Salford about £725,000 annually and I believe that the city’s vital care workers are worth every penny. In Salford, we have a long standing commitment to tackling the pernicious effects of low pay and campaigning for all Salford employers to pay a decent wage. Salford remains the only council in Greater Manchester accredited as a living wage employer; in April 2018, we will once again refresh our pay policy to take account of the increase in the living wage recommended by the Living Wage Foundation.
Our leadership in this area is a good example of how Salford offers an alternative to the dogma of austerity that has dominated national politics since 2010. We have melded a highly successful approach to economic development with a deep commitment to social justice; this is seeing Salford become a high growth economy that creates well paid jobs whilst prioritising the public services that are vital to tackling poverty. At the same time as emerging as the best performing area nationally for business start up rates, we have invested £3million in measures to tackle poverty, including: £170,000 invested in Salford’s credit union; £300,000 invested in Salford Discretionary Support scheme for residents in crisis and £75,000 for a food crisis support service.
I am both proud of our achievements and determined to go further in developing a local economy where wealth serves people and communities, as opposed to the other way round. Yet, it is deeply frustrating that misguided national policies – in welfare reform, housing, and local government finance – at best impede the council and at worst completely fetter our ability to act.
The government’s record in Salford is long:
• Since 2010, it has cut 47% of the council’s revenue funding, starving our public services of vital resources
• we have also seen one off hits such as a £2.3million raid on Salford’s new homes bonus this year; money normally received for creating new housing has been taken to prop up the chronically under funded adult social care system
• Welfare reform and benefits conditionality policies have penalised poor people and undermined the welfare state, leading to reliance on food banks and other forms of emergency support
• The national planning policy framework allows for a 20% profit margin for developers before the need for affordable housing can be considered
• National rules mean that Salford faces restrictions in borrowing to build the social housing that we need to address the chronic shortage of homes in the city, forcing people into expensive, insecure private rented accommodation.
In Salford, we are succeeding in spite of these national failings, yet we will continue to campaign hard for the government to do the right thing: to provide adequate funding for public services and discontinue the welfare reform and housing policies that damage lives and entrench poverty.
More information about Salford’s No One Left Behind Anti-Poverty Strategy