Earlier this week, Hollywood actor and social activist Michael Sheen made an appearance at a conference on Financial Exclusion and Poverty, hosted by Leeds City Council.
The event was attended by over 90 delegates from a wide range of organisations from across the country and saw the launch of the latest research undertaken on behalf of the council by the University of Salford on financial exclusion in the city.
The research found that although the vast majority of people living in the poorer areas of the city now have a bank account (96%), nearly 40% of people have no savings or less than £100 in savings, which offers no safety net if a crisis were to occur.
In addition, there has been a fall in the number of people using high cost credit and more people than ever before are now borrowing to cover day to day living expenses.
Alongside the Leeds research, there were presentations from the Local Government Association on the work they are undertaking to reshape financial support within local authorities.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) also presented their latest research on the extent and nature of destitution in the UK, which found that 1,550,000 people and 365,000 children in the UK experienced destitution in 2017.
Chris Goulden, the Deputy Director of Policy and Research at the JRF, discussed the humiliation and indignity face by people who find themselves destitute, he then highlighted the policy solutions needed to tackle the issue.
Michael Sheen was unable to make the event due to filming commitments in New York, but he sent a pre-recorded message that was played at the conference and expressed his intention to visit Leeds next spring for a meeting of his Ending High Cost Credit Alliance.
Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member for communities, said:
“We are consistently trying to tackle financial exclusion and poverty across Leeds, and the research undertaken and presented at this week’s conference plays a crucial part in doing this. Our vision is that Leeds is a compassionate city with a strong economy that benefits everyone. The conference on Monday was, I hope, insightful to everyone who attended and reflected our commitment to tackling poverty and reducing inequality for all people, both young and old, across the city.”
For media enquiries:
Becky Stubbs, Leeds City Council press office 0113 3786199