Agenda item

The Work of the Tackling Poverty in Gateshead Board

Report of the Strategic Director, Housing, Environment and Health Communities


The Committee received an update on the work of the Tackling Poverty in Gateshead Board.  The work identified and influenced by the Board seeks to mitigate the impact of poverty across Gateshead by encouraging place based and partnership approaches to delivering interventions across Gateshead and its communities.


Following the first Gateshead Poverty Conference in February 2018 steps were taken to create a strategic board made up of senior figures from within the Council and its partners from the private and third sectors.  The board is chaired by Deputy Leader Councillor Catherine Donovan with Alison Dunn, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Gateshead in the role of Vice Chair.


To date in February 2018 and July 2019 two very well support poverty conferences have taken place with over 300 delegates in attendance and 15 speakers who are leaders in their field.  These conferences led to the creation of the board and the identification of 7 key themes of work:


·         Food Poverty

·         Fuel Poverty

·         Child Poverty

·         Housing

·         Financial Inclusion

·         Financial Education

·         Employment Skills and Wages


Since the initial conference in February 2018 a great deal of intervention has taken place to tackle many of the injustices associated with poverty and in particular the key themes identified, including:


·         A successful bid for £204K from the DfE to deliver a Holiday Activities and Food Programme in Gateshead, enabling Gateshead to offer over 12,000 free places on holiday and food clubs across Gateshead

·         A second poverty conference planned and hosted by Gateshead with 10 respected speakers and 150 delegates in attendance was held in 2019

·         The creation of the Gateshead Community Food Network

·         The Red Box Project, now Project Tom via the Gateshead Youth Council

·         The introduction of LEAP and ECHO supporting fuel poor households (the only LA in the North East at the time of the launch)

·         Delivery of Fuel Poverty Awareness Training to several frontline Council employees and external partners plus further delivery of accredited City & Guilds qualifications “Fuel Debt Advice in the Community” for the Council’s THRIVE team and further courses planned for 2020

·         Financial Education in Primary Schools via Newcastle Building Society and their annual charity boardroom challenge

·         Two planned talks on finance and poverty to be delivered to students in year 11 and above at Heworth Grange and St Thomas More secondary schools and a further talk for teaching staff within Heworth Grange

·         Retirement talks for Council employees via Newcastle Building Society

·         Fraud and scams awareness sessions in partnership with Barclays and Northumbria Police

·         Ongoing work with Gateshead Schools and EducationGateshead to offer poverty proofing the schools day resources free of charge to all schools in the borough

·         Created a Gateshead Poverty Truth Commission in partnership with the Methodist Church in Blaydon to ensure that the voices of those residents with lived poverty experiences are both heard and considered when creating future policy.  An official launch event is to be held on 5 March 2020

·         Worked closely with NEFirst Credit Union to facilitate a move to a prominent new shop front premises on Jackson Street, with a likely late January opening

·         Also with NEFirst Credit Union, continue to work in partnership to grow their Gateshead presence across communities, encourage more employees to save via salary deduction (payroll saving), and embed the credit union in all financial inclusion related intervention going forward, including the relationship with the England Illegal Money Lending Team


The Board have agreed that the following areas of work are priorities for 2020 and will run alongside the work already ongoing:


·         Financial Inclusion

·         Financial Education and Poverty Proofing Schools

·         Employment Skills and Wages


In addition the Board also seeks to align its work to the six priorities in the new Health and Wellbeing Strategy, particularly the pledges around ‘fair employment and good work for all’ and ‘ensure a healthy standard of living for all’.


The board is also considering hosting a further major poverty event for 2020 following the success of both conferences in 2018 and 2019.  The Board will also be responsive to need and will direct and allocate priority and/or resources as and when it is deemed appropriate.


RESOLVED -  That the information presented be noted.





Supporting documents: