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Anti-poverty projects made an impact

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Front
Anti-poverty projects made an impact

AN investment of nearly £2m and extra efforts made towards tackling poverty in Dumfries and Galloway have made “significant positive impacts” in communities over the last year.

This is according to a new report which has evaluated the work done by Dumfries and Galloway Council to combat what has recently been described as the biggest issue facing the region.

A total of £1,997,000 was allocated towards 17 different anti-poverty projects and initiatives to help the most vulnerable families and individuals struggling to make ends meet.

This ranged from spending £220,000 on continuing holiday food payments to primary and secondary pupils and investing £130,000 on a taxi cards transport scheme, to ploughing £100,000 into an emergency energy assistance programme for elderly residents.

A thorough evaluation was carried out on all projects, with a scoring system implemented to measure their effectiveness, but council chiefs are pleased with the overall outcome.

An evaluation report reads: “The evaluation shows significant positive impacts on local communities and our most vulnerable citizens for the £1.97m policy investment across all projects.”

Deemed the most successful was the welfare and housing options support team, which was given an additional £165,000 to boost resources in helping people with benefits and housing issues.

The project that delivered an extra £390,000 to the Scottish Welfare Fund also scored well. This fund is provides emergency crisis grants and community care grants, and is always under immense pressure each year as people have issues with benefits payments and the cost of living crisis.

The summer of play for children and young people projects, which was allocated £264,000, was also deemed to be really effective in easing poverty during the school break.

The two lowest scoring initiatives, which may come under review in future, were the taxi cards transport scheme (£100,000) and the grassroots tackling poverty projects (£40,000).

A new tackling poverty, inequalities, and housing sub-committee was set up recently to scrutinise the work of various council departments, including housing and social work, to ensure that major issues are being addressed.

This comes after stats confirmed that one in four children here are living in poverty, employment rates are crashing, and the wages are lower in Dumfries and Galloway than anywhere else in Scotland.

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