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enfield poverty report coverThe final report of the Enfield Poverty and Inequality Commission, published in late January, 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 has risen from being the 12th to the 9th most deprived London borough between 2015 and 2019. Just under a third (27 per cent) of households in the borough are in poverty after housing costs and one in three children is living in poverty.

Inner-London problems but with outer-London funding and infrastructure

At the launch event, 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."

Pockets of crippling poverty

Responding to the report, council leader Nesil Caliskan said:

“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.”

Report executive summary

Enfield is home to over 300,000 residents. The Borough is young and diverse and located within a dynamic and prosperous global city. Both the size and diversity of the population has increased rapidly in recent years and is set to increase further. People the Commission spoke to were proud of their diverse and vibrant community.

These are solid foundations for the Borough to thrive and prosper in the coming years. However, realising the potential of the Borough will man tackling the gnawing poverty and inequality.

Meeting this challenge will not be easy after a decade of austerity and the changing spatial patterns of poverty in London which are being acutely felt in Enfield. As the Commission's work shows, a successful future requires shared priorities and inclusive growth. Indeed, over the last four years, Enfield has risen from being the 12th to the 9th most deprived London borough between 2016 and 2019. 27 per cent of households in the Borough are in poverty after housing costs and one in three children are living in poverty.

Against this backdrop, this independent Commission was established to examine what can be done to tackle poverty and inequality. The Commission focused on three areas: Living, Learning and Eaming - all vital components of a strategy designed to tackling poverty and inequality and improve people's well-being and life chances.

Over a six-month period, the Commission reviewed evidence, listened to stakeholders and heard testimonies from local residents on the challenges and possible solutions. Based on this evidence the Commission has set out twenty-seven recommendations which it believes will make a significant difference to the lives of Enfield's poorest residents and help the Borough continue to be an attractive and inclusive place to live.

Tough new action to reform privately rented housing

The Council have ambitious plans to build 19,000 homes over the next ten years with half genuinely affordable in relation to earnings. In the meantime, privately rented housing will continue to play a major role in housing those on lower incomes. The council should move ahead with a licensing scheme for landlords to increase the quality of accommodation whilst also reducing unfair evictions and discrimination against tenants claiming benefits, and an end to the 'no DSS' culture.

A new integrated health and wellbeing centre for the East of the Borough

Health inequality between the east and west of the Borough is stark. A woman in Edmonton Green can expect to live 8.6 years less than a wornan living in Highlands Ward. People in Edmonton Green can expect to live 66.6% of their life in good heath, compared to people in Winchmore Hill, who can expect to live 81.6% of their life in good heath. Up to 16,644 local residents are not registered with a GP practice and use accident and emergency for healthcare. Building a new integrated health and wellbeing centre on the North Middlesex hospital site will help meet the health needs of the East of the Borough and the new Meridian Water development and improve access to out of hours mental health services. This must remain a priority for the Borough.

Revitalise youth services in Enfield

Serious youth violence is a huge concern across London and in Enfield there is more than one such incident every day. Many London Boroughs have been forced to cut their youth service budgets because of cuts from central government. The Council should take an early intervention approach to keeping young people safe and help them make positive life choices by prioritising investment in youth services and outreach work.

Poverty-proof Enfield's schools

It is crucial that children from poorer families are not discriminated against because of their lack of familial resources. The Council and local schools -pshould work together to make sure all of Enfield's schools are 'poverty-proofed', restoring a uniform grant, eliminating period poverty and removing the stigma of growing up in poverty.

Set a target to reduce low pay within Enfield

One in five workers in Enfield are on low pay, twice the London average. Poverty reduction should be at the heart of the new economic development strategy, which should set a target to reduce low pay within the Borough. In setting out its ambition to create future prosperity in the Borough, the Council and public sector partners should show leadership by ensuing the London Living Wage is paid.

Links

Download the report

Addressing poverty a top priority for Enfield Council  (Enfield Council 20 January 2020)

Poverty report spells out need for funding (Enfield Dispatch 31 January 2020)

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PGC Webmaster posted a reply #5217 10 Feb 2020 00:53
In its monthly email newsletter , Enfield Voluntary Action (EVA) carries a summary of the poverty report, highlighting sections of the report where voluntary and community sector organisations can make a difference. To follow the links in the summary below, read the newsletter online.

Enfield Poverty & Inequality Commission | All things being equal

"The recommendations are a good start to the work of addressing poverty & inequality in our Borough. We will continue to work on more detailed plans and I believe the report provides a framework to enable and strengthen the voluntary sector's long-standing contribution to addressing poverty & inequality in our Borough". Jo Ikhelef, EVA Chief Executive, who sat as a Commissioner.

Enfield Poverty and Inequality Commission was chaired over 6 months by Baroness Tyler of Enfield and included Chief Executives from local voluntary sector organisations (Jo Ikhelef from EVA, Chandra Bhatia from EREC, Jill Harrison from Citizen's Advice, Pamela Burke from Enfield Carers Centre, Monty Meth from Enfield Borough over 50s Forum). The Commission reviewed evidence, listened to stakeholders, and took testimony from local residents, focusing on living, learning & earning in our Borough.

The Recommendations

8 of the 27 recommendations commit the Council to working in partnership with the voluntary & community sector to deliver specific objectives including early intervention to prevent housing problems (see Voluntary Sector Homelessness Network and Training to deliver high quality advice on homelessness prevention), increased use of social prescribing (see EVA Membership & Connect Well), creating a Food Action Plan, helping children become 'school-ready', ESOL provision, increasing volunteering opportunities, access to Council buildings, & initiatives to promote local fundraising.

Many of the other recommendations for Council action relate to projects which should involve local community groups, including health & wellbeing, play streets, reduction in crime & anti-social behaviour, revitalising youth services, maximising the use of libraries, employability for diverse communities, and extension of benefits & debt advice (see Voluntary Sector Homelessness Network & Debt Advice Project).

The Council has stated on its website "Enfield Council will work with its partners to implement all the report’s recommendations."