What makes an effective tackling poverty strategy?

Tackling poverty is a massive challenge – particularly at the local level.

It is essential, therefore, that any local strategy, such as the one put in place by Swansea Council, takes account of what evidence there is so that it can be as effective as possible.

With that in mind, last week saw the first evidence session of our scrutiny inquiry looking at how the Council’s tackling poverty strategy can be improved.

The Panel heard evidence from Victoria Winckler (Bevan Foundation) and Emyr Williams (Public Policy Institute for Wales). They drew on two key studies to offer a checklist of what a local strategy should include.

First Victoria Winckler drew on the very recent Joseph Rowntree Foundation report – Solve UK Poverty – to suggest what issues the strategy should address. This is the five point plan they suggest:

1. Boost incomes and reduce costs
2. Deliver an effective benefit system
3. Improve education standards and raise skills
4. Strengthen families and communities
5. Promote long term economic growth benefiting everyone

Clearly there are some areas where local strategies can have less of an impact than national governments, but being clear about what those areas are, and seeking to ensure effective joint working at all levels were important points in the Panel’s discussion.

Emyr Williams then looked at what the features of an effective strategy should be. He drew on a 2014 report by MacInnes et al – International and historical anti-poverty strategies: evidence and policy review.

This research suggests that, to be effective, strategies must show:

1. Political Leadership
2. Accountability and Coordination
3. Links to Economic Policy
4. External Stakeholder Involvement
5. Monitoring and evaluation
6. Institutions and Systems
7. Originality

These are all issues that the Panel will explore in their continuing evidence sessions. These include hearing from third sector and community organisations, local service providers and the National Assembly for Wales about their own poverty inquiry.

The Panel is also meeting with people experiencing poverty and carrying out a survey of frontline workers.

Find out more about the inquiry – including how to contribute – on the scrutiny webpages here.

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