Lord Best gets Brent’s Poverty Commission underway

7 February 2020

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation's UK Poverty 2019-20 report which has been published today highlights the high rates of poverty in the capital. Brent Council launched their own Brent Poverty Commission, chaired by Lord Best, to tackle this issue.

People in Brent are facing real hardship. The cumulative impact of insecure employment, high rents and changes to the welfare system are being felt across the borough. Food and fuel poverty are all too common and, shockingly. 1.4 million people are living in poverty in outer London – 60% of London’s total.

Brent’s Poverty Commission is designed to get to the heart of how people in Brent are experiencing poverty and how organisations, including the council, can make the most difference. The Commission is made up of local partner organisations and elected members. Over the coming months, it will hear evidence from residents, politicians and expert organisations. The aim is to provide the council with practical, evidence-based recommendations for consideration by Brent’s Cabinet.

The council is delighted that Lord Richard Best will chair the Commission. He said:

"We live in a very unequal society. The recent years of austerity have had severe consequences for those on the lowest incomes. Food banks 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 to consider what it, and its partners, can do to prevent and tackle poverty in the borough.

“I am honoured to be chairing the 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."

Cllr Eleanor Southwood, Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform, commissioned the work. She said:

“People here are really struggling and we must take tangible and prompt action to help. 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 of rocketing housing costs, precarious employment and a welfare system which puts process before people.”

“No one should go hungry or face homelessness. My hope is that our poverty commission will give us some clear and evidence-based recommendations to improve things.”

The Commission will focus on the lived experience of poverty and we will therefore be prioritising ways for our Commissioners to hear direct from residents.