Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Talking poverty

Some constituents recently raised with me their concern at the Children and Families Department holding a staff meeting on poverty and inequality in the Carlton Hotel at the cost of around £4,000.

Those constituents might like to know that my colleague Cllr Jason Rust has raised the matter - as illustrated in this article.

I certainly believe there are times to take staff away for thinking time.  But I also consider that we spend too much time and resources focusing and fussing on these two subjects. It is not that they don't matter. It is just that we assume that the Council is the solution to these issues.   Rather our emphasis needs to be to encourage people out of dependency and poverty, and to be resilient to circumstances. Often the solution is outwith the Council's gift.  Two examples come to mind.

First the improving economy and employment rates will do more to alleviate the circumstances of people in poverty than the council pouring in resources. Our focus needs to be on enabling conditions which encourage the creation of employment.  The second example is welfare reform.  There is hardly anyone who makes an argument against the escalating costs and perverse incentives which welfare payments have generated in recent years, though some will argue (sometimes correctly) that this or that measure or implementation of reform is not working correctly.  Welfare reform will do more to encourage and reward an increasing number of people to take on more responsibility and reap the rewards available, whilst providing a safety net for those who need it.

Organising a meeting on poverty in the Carlton Hotel does suggest a lack of self awareness.

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