19/01/2015

Disappointed at lack of progress battling poverty

I am astonished at the lack of progress on the Fairness Commission by Dundee City Council.  The Fairness Commission was agreed to at the start of September and is supposed to 'consider the nature and extent of poverty in the area, consider evidence of what has worked elsewhere to challenge poverty, assess the effectiveness of the Council and partners' existing action plan and make practical recommendations for policy and action to reduce poverty in Dundee.' (Para 6.5 Report to Policy & Resources Committee 8 September 2014) Since September no progress has been made on this.  A report to set up the Commission might be brought to a council committee in the next few months, this does not seem to match the ambition of those of us who supported the plans for a Fairness Commission back in September.


I have made my support for a Fairness Commission very clear.  I believe that everyone on the council has a duty to look at ways of reducing poverty in the city.  It is disappointing, some might even say it is astonishing, to find out that there has been no progress on the Fairness Commission.  This is a piece of work which is essential for many people in Dundee.  It is surprising that the SNP Administration have not given it top priority.  When this item was taken to committee in September prior to the Independence Referendum there were many partisan points made about the importance of this work.  At the time I made the point that all political parties represented in the City Chambers had in some shape or form contributed to the situation where poverty exists in the city.  Little did I know at that time that a lack of urgency by the SNP Administration on this very report would be next thing that would contribute to the situation.


I want to see action on this.  The headlines were achieved in September I do hope that was not the sole purpose of the report.  People living in poverty in Dundee need to see action.  There is a very old saying that actions speak louder than words.


I want to see the formation of the Fairness Commission brought forward and I want to see it get down to work.  I want that commission to include officers from the council and its partners, I want to see councillors from across the council and much more importantly I want to see people living in poverty on that commission.  The commission will be meaningless if it does not listen to the voices of people who experience hardships on a regular basis.  This should be a challenging piece of work, it should not be a cosy meeting where a group of professionals talk about poor people.


A fairer Dundee would be better a Dundee.  It is in the interests of everyone in the city that Dundee is made fairer and if this piece of work is actually ever done it would contribute to making Dundee a better place.