Addressing poverty a top priority for Enfield Council

Enfield Council’s leader says addressing poverty in the borough will be a top priority in response to an independent report commissioned by the Council.

The Enfield Poverty and Inequality Commission, found that deprivation in the borough has increased in recent years and called on the government to review its funding arrangement for local authorities to help them tackle increasing poverty.

The Commission, run by the Smith Institute, made 27 recommendations which it says will make a significant difference to families with the lowest incomes in the borough.

They include reforming the private rented sector, improving access to healthcare – including mental health services - revitalising youth services and reducing crime and anti-social behaviour.

Enfield Council’s Leader, Cllr Nesil Caliskan, said work on implementing all of the report’s recommendations was already underway.

She added: “Our vision is to not only lift people out of poverty, but to remove the root causes of poverty in our borough.

“The first step has been to acknowledge how bad the problem currently is. The inequality is significant in Enfield and we have to do a better job of telling the story of poverty which affects so many families in the borough.

“We are already working to tackle poverty by shaping and investing in our key, frontline services because we know the task of supporting those most in need over the coming years will fall to councils such as Enfield.

“Government spending cuts of £179m since 2010 have seriously affected our ability to help those most desperately in need but we will be implementing all the recommendations made by the commission as rapidly as possible.

“At a time when the United Kingdom is more affluent that ever before it is simply unacceptable that we have pockets of crippling poverty in this borough. We have residents relying on food banks and choosing whether to buy food or heat their homes.”

Baronness Tyler of Enfield, Chair of the Commission, said:

"Despite Enfield's historic reputation as a leafy outer London Borough, it is now a place with inner London problems but with outer London funding and infrastructure. This must change.

"The Commission are calling on the Government and the Mayor of London to recognise the growing poverty in outer London and look again at how public services in outer London are funded so we can reduce poverty and inequality and make sure all people have the opportunity to fulfil their full potential, regardless of their background.

"Enfield is a vibrant, diverse and young borough which has huge energy and potential. But to release that potential local government, national government, local public services and the voluntary sector must come together to remove the barriers they face.

"One barrier the Commission was particularly worried about is the lack of affordable housing in Enfield. The Council have ambitious plans to build more affordable homes but without more grant funding for local authorities to build, this will take time.

"As a consequence many poorer families are stuck in privately rented accommodation so it's crucial that councils like Enfield have the powers to regulate the local private rented sector (PRS) so it works for all residents."

Enfield has risen from being the 12th to the 9th most deprived London borough between 2015 and 2019. Just under a third (27%) of households in the borough are in poverty after housing costs and one in three children is living in poverty.

The Commission was asked to examine the challenges facing Enfield through three ‘threads’; living, learning and earning over a six month timetable to enable its findings to be incorporated into its budget setting and policy development processes.

It listened to stakeholders across Enfield and heard first hand testimonies from residents on the challenges they faced and possible solutions to them.

Enfield Council will work with its partners to implement all the report’s recommendations.

You can read the report here.

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