Fighting poverty on all fronts in Salford
By Cllr Sharmina August, lead member for anti-poverty, inclusive economy and equalities.
Preventing poverty, supporting people and campaigning against poverty underpins Salford’s updated anti-poverty strategy which has just been published, based on insight from people who have experienced life on or below the breadline.
Salford is now recognised as a leader in Greater Manchester for its pioneering anti-poverty work, a bitter-sweet accolade for the city.
We’re proud to be recognised for the many ways we prevent residents falling into poverty such as expanding our welfare rights and debt advice service and increasing the number of Salford employers paying the real Living Wage.
We’re also proud of how we provide for residents in difficulties. At the start of the pandemic we set up the Spirit of Salford helpline in just 48 hours and recruited 800 emergency response volunteers to ensure that vulnerable people got the food, medicines and support they needed. Our Salford Assist service, which provides emergency help with food, gas, electricity and essentials helped 8,000 people, compared to 3,000 the year before.
Our big challenge now is recovering from the pandemic. Unemployment in Salford is up by 93% and claims for Universal Credit more than doubled last year. One in ten of Salford’s working age population is now registered as a benefit claimant and we know a complex system means people often don’t get the money they are entitled to or are unjustly sanctioned for breaking DWP rules.
Our anti-poverty taskforce will focus on people’s experience of the benefits system during the pandemic, including those unable to claim, to see how we can campaign to improve it. It will also carry out the first UK research on veterans’ experience of the benefits system.
We know not enough Salfordians are benefiting from the city having the fastest growing economy in Greater Manchester.
Our anti-poverty strategy, The Salford Way, is our response:
• A focus on an inclusive economy and maximum social value from all public spending in Salford, with training and work experience opportunities built into contracts;
• Offering personalised job-hunting support and skills development;
• Ensuring people benefit from the digital revolution and our booming construction industry
• And working to be England’s first Living Wage City to lift more people out of poverty pay.
Read about The Salford Way here
At GMPA we are pleased to see many of the components needed for an effective and strategic approach to tackling poverty being put in place by several of our ten Greater Manchester boroughs. This framework should include voluntary adoption of the socio-economic duty. We are holding an event with Just Fair on June 30th that will look at practical implementation of the duty. We are launching a guide to coincide with the event. Other elements of an effective local framework for tackling poverty include the development and implementation of an anti-poverty strategy, clear political and senior officer leadership within the local authority, partnership working and engagement of people with lived experience of socio-economic disadvantage. You can read more here.