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Poverty work wins two national awards

Posted on 3rd June, 2015 by Lincoln Against Poverty

The work helping to alleviate the effects of poverty in the city has been honoured with two national awards.

The Centre for Public Scrutiny awarded City of Lincoln Council the titles for Economic Resilience and Overall Impact – picked from all the winning entries – at its annual conference held in London yesterday (Tuesday).

This comes after the city council’s Community Leadership Scrutiny Committee carried out a two-year review into poverty in the city after figures revealed one in four children in Lincoln live in poverty, one in seven households are in fuel poverty and the city has some of the most deprived wards in the country.

The review included support from many organisations and culminated in the two Lincoln Against Poverty conferences in 2014 and 2015, which saw two action plans created with in excess of 100 projects to be carried out by the council and its partners in a determined bid to mitigate the short to medium term effects of poverty.

Councillor Karen Lee, chair of the Community Leadership Scrutiny Committee, said: “We are thrilled to win these awards after coming runner-up last year.

“It’s testament to the dedication and determination of not only the council but the partners who have joined together and helped to tackle the issue of poverty in Lincoln.

“The review was thorough, it has looked at the wide-ranging effects poverty and has led to real differences being made in the city.

“It’s fantastic the hard work has been recognised and we look forward to continuing the efforts to make sure Lincoln has a prosperous future where all its residents can thrive.”

Jacqui McKinlay, Executive Director, Centre for Public Scrutiny, said: “We are delighted for City of Lincoln Council and all the other winners; they are excellent examples of how good scrutiny leads to better public services.

“The City of Lincoln winning entry ‘Lincoln against Poverty’ impressed on all fronts: their focus on an issue of real importance to residents, their creative approach to working with others and the commitment of the councillors in leading the work.”

There were more than 80 actions contained in the Lincoln Anti-Poverty Action Plan 2014/15, including:

• Lincolnshire Credit Union moved into City Hall. Over the first few months it had 121 new customers and issued 78 small affordable loans to challenge doorstep loans. Combined, customers have saved £121,000 by accessing their loan from the credit union rather than a typical doorstep lender.

• A four-month Christmas poster campaign warned people away from payday and doorstep lenders and towards organisations providing debt advice. Just two months in, a survey found 48 per cent of Lincoln JobCentre clients were already aware of its messages. By the end of the project, Lincoln Citizens Advice Bureau had seen 12.4 per cent more people for advice compared with the year before, and Lincoln Christians Against Poverty witnessed a five-fold increase in waiting times for debt advice.

• City of Lincoln Council undertook a waste diversion pilot, where customers wanting bulky waste collection were signposted to a furniture charity. It has now been adopted as an ongoing process.

• Lincoln Food Bank Forum has developed joint guidance for referral agencies, advising organisations on how to best help people experiencing food poverty crisis.

• City of Lincoln Council implemented a new procedure where, when the Housing Team is notified of the death in a joint tenancy, they will inform the Welfare Advice Team, who can provide welfare advice to the surviving tenant at what will be a difficult and potentially financially difficult time in their lives.

• The Lincoln Against Poverty website (www.lincolnagainstpoverty.co.uk) has been developed to share partner news and information, and promote advice surgeries available to residents in the city. It has received more than 7,000 hits since launching in October 2014.

A two-year action plan is now in place and includes a campaign urging city employers to pay the Living Wage.

James Wilkinson, Principal Policy Officer, said: “We are really honoured to have been recognised nationally for the review of poverty, which resulted in the Lincoln Anti-Poverty Strategy, and an extensive partner-led Action Plan.

“Having delivered more than 80 actions last year, we are working with our partners to deliver more over the coming year to further help those most affected by poverty in our city.

“One of our key focuses over the coming year will be encouraging employers in the city to pay the Living Wage.”

Any organisation that would like to know more about the Anti-Poverty Strategy can email james.wilkinson@lincoln.gov.uk or call 01522 873325.