REMOVING the stigma attached to poverty is a crucial part of the work to reduce it, said a council official.

Many people in Glasgow and across the UK suffer from negative attitudes and blaming poverty on the poor.

Sandra McDermott, Head of Service Development at Glasgow City Council, said changing attitudes can help with take up of benefits people are entitled to receive.

Part of a change in approach from the council in recent years, she said, has been to work more closely with people who have lived experience of poverty.

She said: “They inform us about what needs to change.”

She said that in Calton, a community with the highest child poverty rates in the country, a local Calton Child Poverty Action Group was set up by the people.

Ms McDermott, said: “We went to them last month to ask what would make the biggest difference. We got around 40 asks.”

The cost of going to school was one of the key concerns. On top of the da-to-day cost there was extra-curricular costs, like school trips, communion and school proms which all put pressure on parents’ budgets.

One of the initiatives her department put in place was to increase the take up of the school clothing grant which the council increased to £110.

She said it was known that many people who were entitled had not applied so the council matched people with their council tax benefit claims and were able to pay them the clothing grant.

Ms McDermott said the council is looking to pilot a single financial assessment, which would automatically entitle people to different benefits without having to find out about them and then apply each time.

She said: “The welfare system is very complicated and difficult to navigate your way around.”

Key is getting more people to seek help.

Ms McDermott said certain media characterisations of benefit claimants are unhelpful, as is a focus on benefit fraud when it is statistically very low amounts compared to public perception.

She said: “The reason people are in poverty is they do not have enough money. We need o create well paid secure jobs.”

As well as working with people in poverty the council has an internal training programme to increase awareness of poverty, the issues faced by people and to promote the eradicating of stigma.

It is a Campaign that has been waged in the third sector for a number of years.

The Poverty Alliance has run a ‘Stick Your Labels’ campaign to tackle the demonization of poverty used to justify welfare cuts.

Useful contacts:

The council has set up 19 Universal Credit hubs across the city.

Universal Support Service provides help with online claims. Call FREE on 0808 169 9901 or DWP Universal Credit Service Centre - 0800 328 5644