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Inquiry aims to find truth about poverty in Northampton

Chief executive of Northampton Borough Council David Kennedy says a report into poverty is crucial - but tough to assess

Chief executive of Northampton Borough Council David Kennedy says a report into poverty is crucial - but tough to assess

A study into poverty in Northampton has been launched by the borough council in an attempt to mitigate the impact of austerity measures.

The survey is expected to take just under a year to complete and will take into account views from county services, such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Public Health and The Child Poverty Action Group.

Chair of the scrutiny panel overseeing the study, Councillor Elizabeth Gowen, said the report will inform how public services help those families struggling to make ends meet.

She said: “With the changes being made to the welfare system it just seems appropriate that – as people are now going to face a huge impact on their standard of living – this is a chance to say: ‘How can we help out’?”

The report aims to find out how widespread poverty is in the borough and will be published in March 2015.

Government guidelines define poverty as a working couple, with a child under the age of 14, whose gross income is less than £257 a week.

At a scrutiny panel meeting this week discussing how to conduct the study, councillors said criteria for being ‘in poverty’ could include not being able to afford clothing, energy bills and healthy meals.

Councillor Christopher Malpas (Con, Billing) said it could also take into account the amount of children missing out on school trips because their parents cannot afford to send them.

Chief executive of Northamton Borough Council, David Kennedy, said the very nature of the study would be ‘challenging’.

“A lot of what we are talking about is actually quite well hidden,” he said. “Even the community organisations we speak to will only necessarily know about the people they meet with.

“The difficulty will come in finding out about the people just getting on with their lives and not coming forward.”

 

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