Council agrees poverty action plans for Brent

Councillor Eleanor Southwood.

Councillor Eleanor Southwood. - Credit: Eleanor Southwood

Housing, economy and jobs, financial inclusion and welfare will be the focus as Brent Council looks to build on an independent study into poverty in the borough.

The authority's cabinet has agreed delivery plans based on the Independent Poverty Commission’s recommendations.

The commission, chaired by Lord Richard, independent cross bench peer and social housing champion, was launched in January 2020. It analysed the causes and consequences of poverty in Brent and put forward their recommendations in August.

The commission report pointed to an acute shortage of social housing and commended the council’s affordable homes programme. The delivery plans will focus on existing work to deliver 5,000 affordable homes including 1,000 council homes by 2024, a review of the private rented sector, as well as a push to tackle homelessness in the borough.

Cllr Eleanor Southwood, cabinet member for housing and welfare reform at Brent Council, said: “Poverty is not a new problem for Brent and it is not one we can solve overnight.

"These delivery plans will make sure we are heading in the right direction and have a long-term plan in place.

"To make a difference, everyone with our borough’s future wellbeing at heart will have to work together, come up with ideas, share resources and learn from one another.

"The commission’s report shows this can make a real difference and the council is committed to doing its part.”

READ MORE: High poverty and deprivation in Brent is focus of new independent report

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The council said the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the detrimental impact of poverty on people’s lives, and the affect that poverty can have on health. It is continuing to work with health partners in mitigating the impact of the pandemic including targeted communications and working with local community leaders.

With 15 per cent of workers furloughed and high rates of in-work poverty due to low pay, the council has launched a “Keep Brent Working” campaign to support residents facing job losses throughout the pandemic. There is also a focus on recruitment of 16-24 year olds and supporting residents with digital inclusion and getting online.

Work is under way in developing a youth and community strategy for young people and to tackle fuel poverty - part of the council’s climate emergency strategy.

The delivery plans will be overseen by a consultative group with representation from elected members, local, regional and community organisations.