Further information on the key elements of the report are provided in our fourth blog for Challenge Poverty Week

Yesterday (5 October), Councillors on the City of Edinburgh Council’s Policy and Sustainability Committee reviewed the first annual progress report on ending poverty in Edinburgh.

This report responds to our call to action, A Just Capital that was published last year and provides an overview of progress made by the Council, NHS Lothian, the third sector and other partners against specific actions.

The session was complemented by a deputation from the independent citizens’ network, End Poverty Edinburgh, represented by Linda and Sarah with Fiona from the Poverty Alliance also attending. During the exchange with Councillors, Council Leader, Cllr Adam McVey, called the testimony “powerful” and praised the group as “an enabling force that is hugely valued”. You can watch this session here.

The group informed the development of this report, which sets out actions highlighted for priority by partner agencies in 2021, including…

Providing immediate crisis support to people in need

Over 44,000 crisis and community care grants were delivered in the past year (more than double the previous year) alongside 8,800 Free School Meal payments and 8,300 School Uniform Grant payments (at 50% increase in take up).

Expanding Council and third sector advice and income maximisation services

Edinburgh citizens received a total of £22m of financial gains through improved access to entitlements and reduced costs.

Leading the promotion of fair work in the city

4,400 Council employees received a pay uplift as part of commitments to paying the real Living Wage. A new action group of employers committed to making Edinburgh a Living Wage City was established in 2021, with a goal to encourage 500 new living wage accredited employers in the city in the next five years.

Improving access to employability support

Edinburgh Guarantee was relaunched with a focus on support for people of all ages, alongside launch of a new Young Person’s Guarantee Team and nine new employability services for parents. In total Council funded employability programmes supported almost 3,800 people during 2020/21.

Addressing the housing and homelessness crisis

New investment to trial new ways of working to prevent homelessness and reduce the number of households in temporary accommodation was established. To date preventative services have supported over 300 private rented tenants and 30 council tenants to avoid eviction and homelessness £41.45m Council investment was made during 2020/21 in building new homes, with 252 new social rented homes built in the last year.

Improving prospects and opportunities

A new Edinburgh Learns for Life programme was launched to drive long term improvements to close the attainment and achievement gaps. Progress has also been made to ensure that children living in poverty receive early intervention and holistic support. Locality Operational Groups were established to improve partnership responses to reach those children and families most affected by the pandemic and at risk of poverty.

Improving equalities in health and wellbeing

Alongside actions to improve access to Covid testing and vaccination for people at risk of poverty, the last 12 months have seen continued progress in key projects across the city. Thrive Edinburgh is working to promote and protect mental health, resilience, self-esteem, family strength, and joy in Edinburgh.

Looking ahead to 2022, the report also identifies key priorities for partners in the city next year including…

1. Continue to provide and improve access to crisis support and advice for people struggling with rising living costs, benefits cuts and other challenges.

2. Complete consultation on and take forward actions to implement a Short Term Lets Control Zone in Edinburgh.

3. Complete and respond to the review of city-wide advice services currently being commissioned by Edinburgh Partnership to improve the reach and impact of advice and income maximisation activities.

4. Launch and promote the Edinburgh Living Wage City action plan, with an aim to secure 100 additional living wage accredited employers during 2022.

5. Work with partners across the city to develop a new approach to improving food security.

6. Implement phase 1 actions to develop 20-minute neighbourhood and poverty prevention service models in Edinburgh and continue development of Edinburgh Pact and Thrive Edinburgh.

7. Work with End Poverty Edinburgh group to ensure that people with lived experience of poverty are involved in development of key policy areas highlighted by the group.

8. Implement, promote and embed a new blended employability service due to start in April 2022.

9. Continue to engage with UK and Scottish Government policy makers on areas of national policy critical to meeting end poverty goals in Edinburgh, including social security and funding requirements to address housing need in the city.

10. Continue to implement key mainstream strategies critical to meeting end poverty goals in Edinburgh, including Edinburgh Learns for Life, Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan, and actions to increase the availability of affordable homes and rents.

11. Continue to develop and improve the evidence base needed to implement actions to end poverty, including stigma, the impact of budget decisions on people in poverty, and ensuring that integrated impact assessments are in place for the End Poverty in Edinburgh Delivery Plan.

Later this week, Edinburgh Poverty Commission members will meet to reflect on the contents of this report and discuss the future priorities for city partners to take this work forward.