WE ARE sure the readers will be distressed to learn of the high and increasing levels of poverty in this country. According to the Social Metrics Commission's new measure of Poverty for the UK, there are 14.2 million people living in poverty in the UK, nearly half of whom live in families with a disabled person.

South Lakeland is not immune from these trends and we see increases in poverty, homelessness, rent delinquency and the use of food banks.

For example, the local Kendal food bank is reporting an approximately 19 per cent increase in demand for its services year-on-year. This is mirrored by the increases seen nationally.

In addition, partly as a result of the rollout of universal credit, housing associations are reporting increasing levels of delinquency. One housing association in this area has experienced a significant increase in rent arrears.

Of most concern is the increasing level of child poverty. End Child Poverty Now has reported that child poverty, after housing costs, in England is at 30 per cent. In some wards in South Lakeland, it is above national average. Overall we are at 23 per cent. While this is the lowest in Cumbria it is no cause for celebration.

Some commentators suggest that trying to eradicate poverty is a pointless task. However history, and the experience of other countries, show us that it is possible to construct a more equal society at which levels of poverty are lower.

Poverty is a moral issue. It is also wasteful of human capital. Health and educational outcomes are diminished through poverty. Society is the loser. If someone suffers poverty, we all suffer.

Sadly concern at the human and societal tragedy of increased poverty is perhaps being swamped by worries about Brexit. But not in our council. We have already taken some steps toward poverty alleviation.

We can’t do it alone - you can help by sending us your ideas, concerns and suggestions.

Finally, we would like to thank all the wonderful volunteers who work tirelessly to help the vulnerable in our society. We hugely appreciate what you do.

Giles Archibald, Leader South Lakeland District Council

Suzie Pye, SLDC portfolio holder for Health, Wellbeing and Financial Resilience