Independent body set up to tackle poverty in North Lanarkshire

North Lanarkshire Council has agreed to support the establishment of an independently-chaired Fairness Commission in a bid to tackle poverty and deprivation.

The creation of the commission was agreed recently by the council and it will have free reign to look into issues across North Lanarkshire which impact on fairness and poverty.

Councillor Jim Logue, leader of the council, said: “The most recent findings of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation show that many communities across North Lanarkshire remain trapped in poverty.

“We’re calling on government at all levels to respond to the challenges. The Scottish Government could contribute by making a strategic response to the report they commissioned from independent expert Naomi Eisenstadt. For our part, we are going to establish this Fairness Commission. We know that the work of other commissions has been enormously beneficial in recommending real action for communities and we aim to achieve something which can provoke lasting change for our communities, the council and its partners.”

Fairness Commissions have been used across the UK to examine issues related to poverty and make recommendations to councils and other public sector agencies in a bid to alleviate poverty and deprivation. Other Fairness Commissions have made recommendations around debt and credit, increasing employment and tackling youth unemployment, health, digital inclusion, energy costs and food banks.

A report prepared by the New Economics Foundation, an independent think-tank, said that Fairness Commissions had “succeeded in generating fresh initiatives and a renewed commitment to action among local authorities and their partners”.

Councillor Logue added: “It is important that the commission is chaired independently. We will shortly be recruiting a chairperson, who will obviously have substantial expertise and will be key to guiding the work of the commission. The commission will undoubtedly seek evidence from people and organisations across North Lanarkshire.

“This is an enormous piece of work, and we expect a report should be concluded by February 2017 which makes firm recommendations about how all partners, including the council, can make a real contribution to tackling poverty.”