Poverty Commission report gets full backing by Cabinet

10 September 2020

Brent Council’s Cabinet has given its full backing to the findings from the Brent Poverty Commission’s independent report, which was launched in August.

The Commission, chaired by Lord Richard best, independent cross bench peer and social housing champion, delivered over 40 recommendations to tackle the causes and consequences of poverty in Brent.

The key findings include:

  • More investment in social housing, build even more affordable homes
  • Secure more and better jobs, especially for younger people
  • Work more closely and financially support charities and community organisations who provide much-needed expert advice to local people
  • Lobby Government for more powers and funding for local government especially in the light of role councils have played during COVID-19
  • Get more councils to implement similar recommendations to tackle poverty across the UK

The Commission reported that 1 in 6 households (17%) live below the poverty line, doubling (to 33%) after housing costs are taken into account. More than 1 in 5 (22%) of children live in poverty, doubling to a startling 43% after housing costs.

The report points to an acute shortage of social housing which has forced people into the private rented sector where rents are two or even three times higher.

The Commission recommended Brent Council build on its ambitious plans to generate more affordable homes, using its borrowing powers to build, working with housing associations and taking advantage of post-COVID opportunities to buy from developers and landlords who are exiting the market. It also urged the council to launch an in-depth review into the private rented sector, and enforce decent standards.

With the second highest number of furloughed workers in London and high rates of in-work poverty due to low pay, the Commission highlighted the importance of active labour market policies in the wake of COVID-19 to support job creation and improve local earnings. Recommendations included using the council’s local influence and procurement powers to secure more quality apprenticeships and specialist skills training, as well as to encourage more small and medium-sized employers to pay the London Living Wage. In particular, prioritising activities to raise the aspirations of young people in the borough.

Cllr Eleanor Southwood, Cabinet Member for Housing & Welfare Reform at Brent Council, who commissioned the work said: “I’m so pleased that Cabinet have backed this report. We will now put our collective effort into how to take forward these recommendations. This includes continuing to work closely with our partners to identify how we’ll know we’re making a difference.”

“The recommendations give us many practical ways to ease financial hardship and I’m optimistic that this marks a new chapter in how we address poverty in Brent.”

The Poverty Commission report and recommendations were accepted by Brent’s Cabinet on 7 September. A delivery plan is being developed to take this work forward.

Read full report