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Council gets serious on tackling poverty

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Council gets serious on tackling poverty

“WE mean business” was the message this week as Dumfries and Galloway Council gets serious about tackling poverty in the region.

A new tackling poverty, inequalities, and housing sub-committee will now be set up to scrutinise the work of various council departments, including housing and social work, to ensure 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.

North Dumfries Councillor Andy Ferguson first called for the creation of a dedicated anti-poverty forum in October last year.

As this was unanimously agreed at last Thursday’s full council meeting, Councillor Ferguson said: “This committee has got to have teeth, it’s not a talking shop.

“Unless it’s got teeth, issues will just go round in circles and be punted from department to department.

“This is the committee that will oversee, in my suggestion, that all the departments are actually delivering what they’re supposed to deliver in either the housing sector or the anti-poverty strategy.

“It’s not just a case of setting up a committee of 15 and we can chat over a cup of tea and a biscuit. No, we mean business.”

When the child poverty action report for 2022-23 was published last autumn councillors were horrified to read about the “downward trend” of child poverty locally.

Meanwhile, Annandale South Councillor George Jamieson said: “I strongly support this because I think it’s absolutely fundamental to the values of this council – that we all take responsibility for the really serious problem of poverty.”

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