Anti-Poverty Strategy 2022-2027

We want to make sure that Bradford District is a place where everyone, regardless of background, can realise their potential and lead fulfilling and prosperous lives free from the scarring effects of poverty and inequality.

We have some of the wealthiest places in the country in our district but many more of the poorest. Far too many of our people are living in poverty and there are wide inequalities in life chances and opportunity across the district. This is quite literally a matter of life and death. A child born into the poorest family can expect to live ten years less than a child born into the wealthiest.

Across the district, one in five of our working age families live in relative poverty and two in five children aged under 15 live in relative poverty. In the constituencies of Bradford East and Bradford West, half of children aged under 15 live in relative poverty.

Even before the pandemic hit, poverty and deprivation were increasing. In 2015, Bradford was the 19th most deprived city in England, by 2019 it was the 13th most deprived. Increases in life expectancy had stalled, deep health and educational inequalities marked our district and our economic potential was limited by an economy with a large number of poorly paid, low skilled jobs.

The pandemic deepened poverty and shone a spotlight on the deep inequalities that scar our society. Those who had least were hit hardest. From March 2020 – February 2021, half of COVID-19 fatalities occurred in the 20% most deprived areas of Bradford. The 20% least deprived areas of Bradford had 7% of fatalities. Unemployment rose, food bank use soared, debt increased. Our children and young people were heavily hit by the wider social, educational and economic consequences of the pandemic. This will have long term consequences.

In addition to the pandemic, we now face a cost of living crisis. We know the crisis will deepen poverty and make the daily struggle to get by even more difficult. Inflation is at a 40 year high. This is most obvious in the steep rise in energy, food and fuel costs. This hits the poorest households hardest; they spend a higher proportion of their income on essentials such as heating and food. Research shows that, on average, the poorest 10% of households face inflation rates 1.6 times higher than the richest 10% of households. In cities like Bradford, inflation rates can be up to 3% higher than the national average. As well as higher costs, household budgets are being squeezed by changes in taxes and benefits. Living standards are falling as wage increases fall behind price rises.

The impact of the cost of living crisis will be both short and long term. Short term impacts will be evident in a rise in poverty levels, in particular food and fuel poverty, debt problems and greater stresses on already vulnerable families and groups. This can be expected to increase demand on key support services. It is no exaggeration to say that many more of our poorest families will struggle to get by, facing harsh choices between eating and heating.

Longer term impacts arise from the lifetime scarring effects of poverty. These will be seen in outcomes such as educational achievement, life and healthy life expectancy, jobs and skills. The key drivers of health outcomes, for example, are socio-economic. Reduce poverty and population health outcomes will improve in the long run.

This strategy sets out the Bradford approach to meeting the challenge of poverty. Building on previous strategies and the good work taking place across the district, it sets out:

  • what we mean by poverty, how much poverty there is across our district and why tackling poverty matters;
  • our vision and four core goals;
  • our wide ranging plan to meet our four core goals. This is based around seven work themes; each theme has a set of priorities and accompanying programmes.

The strategy is built on a partnership approach. It is owned by all stakeholders who have an essential role to play in preventing and reducing poverty in Bradford District. This means public agencies, the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, businesses, and communities themselves. We must all work together to tackle poverty at a local level. We must at all times work with our communities. We must build them in not out. We must base our work on what works best for them. We will follow the “nothing done to us without us” principle. The strategy is steered by the Anti-Poverty Co-ordination Group and overall governance responsibility lies with the district Health and Wellbeing Board.

Our strategy provides help in the short term, with the day by day struggle to get by. It also provides help in the long term, by preventing poverty and providing routes out of poverty. 

We need to be realistic. Poverty is an entrenched problem. The continuing impact of the pandemic and now the cost of living crisis will further entrench poverty. Many of the key policy levers influencing poverty lie with national government and are outside of local control; these include economic, welfare, education and health policy. At local level, we cannot determine these. Further, the capacity of local government has been severely reduced since 2010 because of austerity. This resulted in approximately a £413 per person spending cut from 2010-2019. Also, many of our current programmes are dependent on national funding.

But if we work together and build on our strengths, we can meet the challenges we face.

By working together, we can ensure that the services we provide, the budget decisions we make, and the strategies and policies we develop protect our poorest and most vulnerable citizens and work toward reducing poverty.

As a measure of our commitment to reducing the impact of poverty and inequality, the Council has adopted the socio economic duty. This means low income groups and people living in poverty are one of our protected characteristics when conducting Equality Impact Assessments. All policies and strategies are now assessed to ensure that they work toward reducing poverty and inequality. We are working closely with our partners to ensure this is a district wide approach.

Our four core goals aim to:

  • Protect people in poverty
  • Prevent people falling into poverty or falling further into poverty
  • Provide pathways out of poverty
  • Ensure those in poverty can participate in the full social, political, economic and cultural life of their communities

Our seven work themes aim to ensure that we achieve our four core goals by ensuring:

  • Financial inclusion
  • A great start and a great education
  • Better skills, good jobs and a growing economy
  • Better health, better lives
  • Better housing and inclusive and sustainable communities
  • Supporting vulnerable groups
  • Participation and voice

Our strengths

  • First and most important, our people. We are the youngest city in the UK. Our district has one of the most diverse and vibrant populations. In 2025 we will be the UK City of Culture.
  • Second, the Bradford economy is worth £9.5 billion, the 11th largest in England. It has a strong, broad-based, innovative and entrepreneurial business community. And we are one of the most internationally connected cities in the UK.
  • Third, we have some excellent assets in the district to help us: the expertise of Born in Bradford (BiB), award winning youth and social cohesion projects, integrated careers and vocational skills programmes, the University of Bradford’s achievement as the number one UK University for social mobility and fantastic programmes such as Better Start Bradford, JU:MP and the Bradford Outcome Area. All of these in a diverse, vibrant district of outstanding natural beauty, rich cultural heritage and entrepreneurial innovation.
  • Fourth, the pandemic has shown the central importance and strength of Bradford’s public services and local partnership working and how Bradford excels in partnership working and provision.

Read the full strategy

You can read the full Anti-Poverty Strategy (PDF)