Members of the DfC Anti-Poverty Strategy Co-Design Group produce Key Recommendations Paper
Members of the Department for Communities Anti-Poverty Strategy Co-Design Group have produced a paper that details their key recommendations for development of an Anti-Poverty Strategy for Northern Ireland (to view see attached document). This paper has been produced by a range of civil society organisations in their role as members of the Co-Design Group (a full list of these organisations can be found in the attached document).
Background to the Groups Paper
As part of a suite of social inclusion strategies, the Anti-Poverty Strategy Co-Design Group was established by the Department for Communities in December 2020. The Group understood its role was to advise and work alongside the Department in the development and drafting of a new cross-departmental Anti-Poverty Strategy, which is evidence-based and targeted to address objective need. In doing so the Group would consider the recommendations from the Anti-Poverty Strategy Expert Advisory Panel report and those gathered via a programme of wider stakeholder engagement, most critically the views and experiences of those with lived experience of poverty.
Members of the Co-Design Group became increasingly concerned at progress on the development of a draft strategy, including a lack of clarity as to how their contribution was to be considered and reflected in any recommendations to the Northern Ireland Executive on the Anti-Poverty Strategy’s direction and content. This included those key actions that they felt should be prioritised and taken forward within an Anti-Poverty Strategy.
Following a series of engagements with the Communities Minister, an agreement was reached between members of the Co-Design Group and the Minister in December 2021 that members would take forward the development of a recommendations paper independently to the Department. The paper would outline these group members recommendations for an Anti-Poverty Strategy and would be shared with the Cross Ministerial Steering Group to inform their consideration of a draft strategy.
How the Paper was developed
The group engaged in an intensive series of online workshops, to agree the process for development and most substantially to further consider and agree their key recommendations in more detail.
In April 2022, group representatives delivered a presentation to Executive Ministers and their officials via a meeting of the Cross Ministerial Steering Group, hosted by the Communities Minister, highlighting key recommendations from the paper and their collective priorities for inclusion in the Anti-Poverty Strategy.
In communication with the Minister and her Department, group members, have since worked to further refine and finalise their paper, with the aim of wider dissemination, resulting in production and agreement of an updated paper in September 2022 (see attached document).
Group members are mindful that there is a great level of interest across civil society regarding the ongoing development of the Anti-Poverty Strategy and increasing calls to see meaningful progress. This has only been compounded by growing political, social and economic challenges, not least, the continued political vacuum at Stormont and the cost-of-living crisis, all of which have a direct impact on the complexities and realities of poverty across our communities.
The Groups intention in disseminating its paper is to share their thinking more widely with other key stakeholders across civil society and create opportunities to open the discussion on those key recommendations they have set out. It is the Groups intention, in the upcoming period to engage in a range of discussions with other key stakeholders, including wider civil society networks/forums.
Group members hope their paper can add to the body of evidence already gathered by the Department for Communities in the development of the Strategy and provide ‘further direction of travel’, for consideration by a new Northern Ireland Executive.
Whilst by no means an ‘end’ or ‘finished’ product, group members hope that their paper, similar to the publication of the Anti-Poverty Strategy Expert Advisory Panel report, marks a further milestone in the development of the Anti-Poverty Strategy, and that its dissemination will add impetus to the progress of the Strategy’s development.
Group members remain committed to supporting and advancing the development of the Anti-Poverty Strategy. They will continue to advocate to Government, on the urgent need for meaningful progress on the agreement and actioning of an Anti-Poverty Strategy, including delivery against the recommendations made within their paper.
Summary of Group Members Key Proposals
Group members propose that a Northern Ireland Anti-Poverty Strategy commits to the following strategic vision:
“Northern Ireland is an equal society where poverty and its impacts are eradicated, and that respects, protects, promotes and fulfils the rights of those at risk of poverty to ensure they achieve their aspirations.”
To achieve this vision, Group members recommend the Anti-Poverty Strategy commits to the following six high-level outcomes:
The creation of an Anti-Poverty Act which will ensure that the rights of people experiencing or at risk of poverty are promoted, protected, and realised.
Working towards eradication by 2040, child poverty will be reduced by half over the lifetime of this Strategy.
No working age person shall live in poverty, regardless of whether they are in work, seeking work or unable to work. All those of working age will have sufficient income to participate fully in society and can access services and pathways to sustained and meaningful employment.
No older person shall be in poverty: Rates of poverty among older people should be reduced by 30%, or more if poverty levels rise, working towards eradication within the lifetime of the Strategy. Older people experiencing or at risk of poverty will have adequate income and support in relation to their economic, physical, and mental wellbeing to ensure their equal participation in society.
We have attractive, safe, accessible, welcoming, and sustainable environments in the most deprived areas.
All people experiencing or at risk of poverty have equal access to high quality public services that meet their needs in a timely manner and are based on the principles of dignity, fairness, and respect.
Under each outcome Group members have set out a series of detailed calls or proposals they believe are necessary to meaningfully address poverty and its impacts, with the overarching goal of eradicating poverty in Northern Ireland by 2040 at their core. (You can view the recommendations proposed under each outcome in the attached document).
For Further Information
For any queries regarding the Groups paper please contact:
 The Group of Northern Ireland Executive Ministers, who along with the Communities Minister will agree the final content of the Anti-Poverty Strategy to be agreed by NI Executive.
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