Barnet Council has approved plans for reducing poverty in the borough, with councillors voting for a raft of new measures at last night’s (18 October) Cabinet meeting.
Cabinet members were presented with a comprehensive plan to tackle the main causes of inequality between different communities, especially for those who experience lower than average job and education opportunities, as well as poorer health and wellbeing.
The wide-ranging measures are designed to create a ‘joined-up’ approach which will include placing responsibilities on the council’s suppliers and contractors to invest in the local economy and workforce, and for the council to support the voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise (VCFSE) sector to lift the most vulnerable and disadvantaged out of poverty.
Among the recommendations, the council will implement procurement plans requiring its suppliers and contractors to ‘buy local’, create local jobs and pay employees a living wage. Local VCFSE organisations will be encouraged to bid for council contracts and access the council’s social impact fund to support community projects.
Other measures include working with the Barnet Food Steering Group to achieve the aims of the Barnet Food Plan to give every resident access to affordable, healthy food. The council is also committed to supporting pension-age residents through raising awareness of financial and online scams and providing better access to preventative health and wellbeing services to protect physical and mental health. Disabled, deaf and hard-of-hearing residents will receive increased support to access training and job opportunities, as well as the range of benefits to which they are entitled.
Councillor Anne Clarke, Cabinet Member for Community Wealth Building, said: “As we approach winter, we know that many households will again be at the sharp end of the ongoing cost of living crisis.
“Our role is to support people most impacted economically by these challenges, while capturing opportunities that bolster our local neighbourhoods and communities to create places where residents, their families and friends can thrive.
“We care about our people in Barnet. From providing support to access digital information and services for the boroughs pension age residents, to supporting Barnet’s young people most at risk of being not in education, employment, or training, and ensuring local opportunities are available, including apprenticeships. We want to provide the best possible opportunities for everyone.”
Barnet Council’s Cabinet has also approved proposals to update its social value policy. This will require suppliers of large contracts to support community projects, as well as create new jobs for local residents.
This includes a minimum of 5% to be reinvested in social value initiatives by suppliers, on contracts worth over £100,000. For larger contracts, suppliers must also create a minimum of one local job for every £1million of contract value.
The full social value press release is available: Councillors vote for large council contracts to fund community projects and local jobs | Barnet Council
Over the last few years, the council has undertaken initiatives to help residents facing difficulties fuelled by the cost-of-living crisis.
These include, a £2million Residents’ Support Fund to provide targeted financial assistance to help residents tackle the cost-of-living crisis. Working with community groups to develop a network of warm spaces, with over 40 warm spaces dispersed throughout the borough, and working closely with BOOST Barnet External link to help people secure jobs.
For more information on cost-of living-support, please visit: https://www.barnet.gov.uk/benefits-grants-and-financial-advice/cost-living-support