‘Real hardship’ – commission to tackle poverty in Brent

PUBLISHED: 10:56 16 February 2020

Lord Best will chair a poverty commission in Brent. Picture: Brent Council

Lord Best will chair a poverty commission in Brent. Picture: Brent Council

Brent Council

An investigation will be carried out into poverty in Brent, where a third of people earn less than the National Living Wage.

Lord Best will chair a poverty commission in Brent. Picture: Brent CouncilLord Best will chair a poverty commission in Brent. Picture: Brent Council

The Brent Poverty Commission was ordered by the council and will be chaired by Lord Richard Best.

It will gather evidence from residents, politicians and organisations, and propose solutions to the council and its partners.

The Office for National Statistics' Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings shows that 31per cent of Brent residents earn below the London Living Wage.

Brent residents are the second-lowest paid in London, earning a median of £610.20 per week for full-time workers.

The median rent for a private two-bed flat in Brent was £1,499 in the first quarter of 2019 - the third-highest level out of the 20 outer London boroughs. This has led to high eviction rates - Brent has the second-highest in London.

Cllr Eleanor Southwood, cabinet member for housing and welfare reform, who ordered the poverty commission, said: "People here are really struggling and we must take tangible and prompt action to help.

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"Too often, we focus on the individual factors that impact people's income and quality of life.

"This commission will consider the lived experiences of poverty in the Borough to better understand the cumulative impact. No one should go hungry or face homelessness."

Lord Best said: "The recent years of austerity have had severe consequences for those on the lowest incomes.

"Foodbanks have sprung up to meet basic need; housing costs have outpaced incomes and homelessness has risen; local authorities have struggled to sustain essential services.

"I am delighted that Brent Council has established its poverty commission.

"I hope very much that it will draw some significant conclusions, make some valuable recommendations, and lead to better lives for those in the borough who currently face real hardship every day."

In 2018, the Child Poverty Action Group revealed that Brent had the 14th highest level of child poverty in the UK, with 43pc of children living below the breadline.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation's 2019-20 UK Poverty report, released last Friday, revealed that a week social security system, unaffordable housing, and unreliable, low-quality work have left around 14 million in poverty in the UK - one in five of the population.

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