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Anti-poverty group could be set up by council

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Anti-poverty group could be set up by council

TACKLING poverty could become an even bigger priority for Dumfries and Galloway Council with the establishment of a group focused solely on the issue.

Proposals will be put forward at today’s full council meeting for setting up an anti-poverty committee for councillors to try and best support deprived communities and combat the effects of poverty.

A report will be tabled with four options: establishing a joint poverty, inequalities and housing sub committee; creating a poverty and inequalities sub committee with a housing parent committee; setting up joint working groups between council officers and councillors focusing on poverty and inequalities; or maintaining the status quo where the issue simply features on the agenda of other forums such as the full council meeting or social work committee.

Councillors will be asked to make a choice and then instruct officers to come back with arrangements in June.

The proposal follows the publication of the child poverty action report for 2022-23. Councillors were horrified to read about the “downward trend” of child poverty in the report in October last year, which further highlighted the tough times kids and families in this region are facing.

Not only are one in four children are living in poverty, but employment rates are crashing – and the wages are lower in Dumfries and Galloway than anywhere else in Scotland.

At the October meeting, North Dumfries Councillor Andy Ferguson called for the creation of a dedicated anti-poverty forum.

He said: “On issues like housing and waste, we’ve got sub-committees where members scrutinise, discuss, help, and support.

“But for the biggest issue that’s facing us right now, we don’t have that within the council.

“This is the opportunity to do something now and actually put something in place – whether that’s a sub-committee or appropriate forum – so that members have got an input.”

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