Lincoln's war on poverty begins
The first in a series of meetings aimed at tackling some the effects of poverty in Lincoln has shone the spotlight on benefit and other support available to people on low incomes.
The City of Lincoln Council’s community leadership scrutiny committee is looking at the impacts of poverty at focused on key themes, including accessing work, child poverty and education, health and housing.
The overall aim is to gather enough information to create an anti-poverty strategy for the city. This will help to fulfil one of the authority’s key priorities of protecting the poorest people in Lincoln.
Benefits for unemployed and working people was the topic at the first meeting.
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Professor Stephen McKay, from the University of Lincoln, highlighted that issues affecting the working poor have become as common and intense as those affecting people out of work.
He introduced the concept of the 'under employed' where people are working less hours than they want or need to get by.
Derrick Brown, from the Department for Work and Pensions, said the number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance in the 25-49 age bracket is now higher than regional and national figures and highlighted the way his services were changing to support all age groups during periods of unemployment
The Citizens’ Advice Bureau’s Neil Clurrow highlighted that his service was seeing more and more people with complex debt issues, and the most vulnerable people are those who cannot access the internet as an increasing number of services to help are delivered that way.
John Eames from the Lincoln Credit Union covered the range of financial services that could be offered from his organisation and the issues associated with high interest pay day and doorstep lenders.
Tina James, from Lincoln Community Larder, and Joy Blundell, from Food Bank, said there has been up to a 170 per cent increase in demand for help from them.
And Michele Seddon, from Age UK, reminded the committee that up to 1 in 3 pensioners were living in poverty, in some cases having to choose between eating and heating their homes.
Councillor Karen Lee, who chairs the community, said: “We are committed to our priority of protecting the poorest people in Lincoln and these meetings will help us to find out as much information as we can about the challenges people in the city are facing.
“It is vital we hear from as many partners as possible so that we can create an effective anti-poverty strategy with interventions that help those, either in work or out of work, to make ends meet.”
The next meeting will take place at City Hall on Thursday, October 17 at 6pm where the focus will be on helping people into work.