PEOPLE who know what it’s like to be hard up in Swansea badly want a poverty truth commission, a council report has said.

Council officers have met a group with firsthand knowledge of being poor as part of a proposal to set up a formal Swansea Poverty Truth Commission.

A report going before cabinet described this meeting as a “dynamic and candid session” and said support for the commission was unanimous.
Cabinet will be asked on June 20 to show its commitment, and get the ball rolling further.

Poverty truth commissions bring decision-makers with other groups in society and have been held elsewhere in the UK.

Their aim, said the report, was “recognising that we cannot hope to understand, let alone address the causes and symptoms of poverty unless we involve the experts, those with direct experience of poverty who live with the reality day in day out”.

The commission would take up to two years to set up and complete, and cost around £70,000.

A senior council representative, such as the leader, chief executive or Lord Mayor, would be nominated to champion the process.
Testimonies from commissions elsewhere have shown tangible benefits. Two English councils who held them said residents felt their voice was being heard, and that change had happened as a result.

The plan in Swansea is to create a start-up group to identify potential commissioners from the public, private and third sectors.

A high profile launch would then take place before the work of the commission got under way in earnest.

Priorities would be established, and sub-groups established to take that work forward.

The cabinet report recommended a £5,000 council contribution to start with, with grants and partner contributions also expected.

A council scrutiny group has previously recommended the creation of a Swansea Poverty Truth Commission, and the cabinet report warned that not pressing ahead could have repercussions.

It said: “If the decision now is to withdraw backing at a high level for developing a Swansea Poverty Truth Commission, the council risks losing credibility and the trust of its partner organisations, grassroots organisations in the third sector and, most significantly, with its residents who are experiencing poverty.”

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