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Councillor­s to discuss anti-poverty taskforce

New strategy for cost of living crisis


Elected members will this week be asked to approve plans for the creation of an anti-poverty taskforce and new strategy designed to help people navigate the worst of the escalating cost of living crisis.

Councillor­s will also be asked to sign-off an additional £470,000-worth of funding to support those most in need over the winter period during a full Perth and Kinross Council meeting on Wednesday, September 28.

A spokespers­on for the local authority explained that approximat­ely one in four children in Perth and Kinross are currently living in poverty – which equates to more than 5155 youngsters.

On average, each of the region’s households will see their annual budget stretched by almost £3000 – around £250 per month – because of the cost of living crisis, according to the council.

The new anti-poverty taskforce would see PKC work with partner agencies, businesses, third sector organisati­ons and communitie­s to coordinate the response to the crisis.

In addition, the proposed cost of living strategy sets out the council’s commitment to helping affected residents.

Key pledges include providing targeted funding to support the poorest households, helping residents access financial advice and support, and helping people access emergency food when necessary.

The £470,000 earmarked funding includes £150,000 to support organisati­ons opening their doors to provide warm spaces and £170,000 for community groups and organisati­ons to purchase and distribute warm home packs and provide food.

There will also be £120,000 for “cost of living crisis payments” to kinship and foster carers.

Perth and Kinross Council leader Grant Laing – an SNP elected member for the Strathtay ward – said: “We are on the precipice of a crisis that will hit our most vulnerable residents the hardest.

“Those who are already struggling to make ends meet could easily find themselves in an impossible situation.

“Although many consider Perth and Kinross to be an affluent area, we know there are pockets of real poverty and that even in areas of high employment, many are on low wages.

“We’ve committed additional funding to help residents already but know there is much more that needs done.

“Protecting our residents is our priority, and our cost of living strategy underlines our commitment to them.”

Cllr Laing added: “As a council we have a duty to help but we don’t have a monopoly on wisdom.

“The anti-poverty taskforce will feature input from us and our partner organisati­ons such as the NHS and Police Scotland, as well as from residents, charities and community representa­tives.

“We want to know what is happening in our communitie­s so we can target help where it is needed the most and create better opportunit­ies for our most disadvanta­ged.

“We saw the power of community during the coronaviru­s pandemic and that resilience and support is needed again.”

It is proposed that 18 members of the taskforce are appointed, with an independen­t chair.

There would be five representa­tives from the council – including leader Cllr Laing – as well as representa­tives from community planning partners, the third sector and the private sector.

A local authority spokespers­on added: “The council has already put mitigation measures in place for those affected by the cost of living crisis including establishi­ng a Financial Insecurity Fund, ramping up investment in welfare rights, money and debt advice, increasing funds available for energy efficiency advice and making additional funds available for the provision of community food.

“For the financial year 2022/23, through a mix of funding from the Scottish Government and council decisions, there has been an additional investment of £3.3m to mitigate the impact of poverty and the cost of living, with a further £4.5m on wider mitigating activity such as expansion of free school meals, meals during school holidays and home energy efficiency measures within councilren­ted properties.”

We want to know what is happening in our communitie­s

Cllr Grant Laing

 ?? ?? Strategy Perth and Kinross Council leader Grant Laing could be one of those appointed to the proposed new taskforce, should it be approved this week
Strategy Perth and Kinross Council leader Grant Laing could be one of those appointed to the proposed new taskforce, should it be approved this week

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