The first West Northamptonshire Commission Meeting takes place

On the 15th of November 2021 the very first West Northamptonshire Community Commissioner Meeting took place. Community Commissioners are those people who have some form of lived experience of Poverty or Hardship and are prepared to talk about it. They came together to discuss the Local Authority Anti-Poverty Strategy (which is in its infancy) and to talk about what Poverty means to them, what barriers confront them and what the Anti-Poverty Strategy could do to help them. Over 2 hours they discussed the themes around Poverty (helping those in Poverty and helping those who could easily fall into a Poverty trap) and how relevant and topical the Quick Wins set by the Local Authority are. The next step is to engage more Lived Experience stories and individuals, bringing them into the Commission for January of 2022, just as the Local Authority strategy begins to unfold.

Voluntary Impact Northamptonshire (as hosts of the Commission) would like to thank all of the individuals that attended. We value their time and efforts. We will keep in touch with them all in the next few months.

The Quick Wins section of the Local Authority Anti-Poverty Strategy can be seen here – Quick Wins

Notes from the first Commission can be seen here – PTC Inaugural Commission 15.11.21

Some of the Community Commissioners felt that the Local Authority Strategy should clarify what is meant by the term the UK Living Wage – as there are several terms used by differing organisations, including Central Government.

Linked to this was an issue was raised for people claiming carers allowance, where earnings are limited in order maintain eligibility for such benefits. Community Commissioners felt that the strategy should consider the implications of this.

The group had examples of socially rented homes let without carpets across the UK and wondered what Northamptonshire Partnership Homes (amongst others) currently undertake in terms of Policy and Practice.

Commissioners felt that there should be a Central Information Platform so information about charitable support for individuals can be found. The discussion point being around misconceptions that “charitable aid” may affect benefits.

Are there local “floor surfacing” manufacturers that could provide carpets or remnants at a reduced price.

There are local trusts and foundations that have old fashioned rules regarding distribution of funds, resulting in low spend at a time of high need. what can we do to address this within the Local Authority Anti-Poverty Strategy?

The Group talked about policy and practice within West Northamptonshire Council. The social value act should be integrated into working practice, especially  around the commissioning of services:  When scoping/ planning / changing services an “anti – poverty impact measure” should be introduced.

We are asking all Voluntary Sector Organisations to help us find Commissioners. We have now appointed an oral historian to record these stories and all we need are names and contact information (with permissions of course) and we will do the rest. Contact if you know of a person who may be interested in telling their story.

Russell Rolph – Voluntary Impact Northamptonshire CEO