Action Week is highlighting poverty injustice - Cammy Day

Having focused on one of our key priorities during Scottish Climate Week last week, now it is time to address another.

I’m conscious that, as the true scale of the cost-of-living crisis becomes ever clearer, many people across the city will be concerned about the months ahead and their own economic circumstances.

As a Council, we’re committed to delivering against the targets set by the Edinburgh Poverty Commission and ending poverty by 2030. The cost-of-living crisis alongside recent rises in inflation and general economic instability has only highlighted the importance of this issue.

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This a huge crisis, with people facing the toughest financial squeeze of their lifetimes, and we – and our partners – are working extremely hard to lessen the impacts and make a real difference for our residents.

As I outlined to the Council last month, it’s vital that we cooperate to progress the work of the Poverty Commission to tackle this directly. We’ve taken the decision to look at freezing tenants’ rents for a third year in a row. I’ve also written to the Scottish Government requesting that the rent freeze across private and social rented homes is maintained until

rent controls are in place in Edinburgh.

In our February budget, we set aside £7.5 million which will provide crisis support and additional use of the Scottish Welfare Fund crisis grant. In August we earmarked an additional £1.2 million for families on low incomes. In the 2022/23 academic year we have 8514 pupils taking up Free School Meals and 8053 making use of the Clothing Grant.

We’re also working hard to develop ‘Warm and Welcoming Spaces’ across Edinburgh, where citizens can keep warm and comfortable in the coming months, and access support and

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advice to help alleviate food/fuel poverty. A report on these spaces will be presented to the Policy & Sustainability Committee on 1 November. Making homes cheaper and easier to heat is also key, along with Changeworks we have provided energy upgrades to 734 homes in the last year with many more on the way.

We want to make it easier for people to access the support they are entitled to and end the stigma around asking for help. It is estimated that around £8 billion of income related benefits are not claimed nationally by those eligible.

Please visit our dedicated Cost of Living webpage for further information on welfare, housing, homelessness, energy, food, bills, council tax reduction, free school meals/clothing grants, and general financial advice.

We recognise that whilst the Council has a huge responsibility to its residents, the scale of the challenge requires action at Holyrood and at Westminster. Recent events since the Chancellor’s ‘mini budget’ have cast into sharp light the reality that central government’s actions can bring severe consequences at local level.

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We are in the midst of a challenging fight against the causes and symptoms of poverty. While there are no easy solutions, I remain steadfastly committed to doing my utmost as Council Leader along with colleagues and the city’s partners to improving the situation here

in Edinburgh.

Council leader Cammy Day on Challenge Poverty Week, which runs until 9 October

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