Monday, 16 December 2013
Intensifying our fight against poverty
As 2013 comes to an end, I’ve been reflecting on what the CHC Group and the sector have achieved in 2013. This is the time of year where those of us brought up as part of the Band Aid generation tend to think of those less fortunate. With increased austerity, and the impact of welfare reform and the introduction of the 'bedroom tax', concern for the less fortunate has been at the very forefront of our minds throughout the year.
We held a successful Annual Conference in November, with some clear messages from the Minister on the need to increase supply. So at the end of November I was delighted to attend the Housing Europe network in Denmark and to showcase the Welsh Housing Finance Grant as an example of EU Housing good practice, building 1,000 affordable homes without traditional capital subsidy or traditional bank lending. A real achievement in 2013.
At our Annual Conference, I was also deeply impressed by Sian Williams from Toynbee Hall and her messages about fighting poverty and financial inclusion. Financial education isn’t enough - there has to be access to affordable finance too.
The week after going to Denmark, I took a trip with the Four Feds to Northern Ireland and a tour of Derry and the Bogside to see some impressive housing projects, but also communities exploited by loan sharks. What hit home were the barriers local people encountered in accessing affordable credit, despite the maturity of the credit union movement in Ireland. This is why I’m so proud that members and CHC have worked so well together this year in extending Moneyline services to Merthyr, Swansea and Wrexham and helping so many people through the Your Benefits Are Changing campaign.
When we re-emerge in 2014, I want us to redouble our efforts in fighting poverty and extending social justice. As Sian from Toynbee Hall told us, 'We shouldn’t be worried about welfare reform – we should always have been angry about poverty' … our members are at the leading edge.
You can find out more about the CHC Group's activities over the last year in our Annual Review for 2013.
Group Chief Executive