He also warned that Stormont’s new anti-poverty strategy must include “targeted interventions” for Derry and Strabane.
The long awaited anti-poverty strategy, a key aspect of the New Decade, New Approach deal, seeks to address “inequalities and obstacles that directly affect the everyday lives of the most vulnerable people in society” and is being developed by the Department for Communities.
An expert advisory panel on poverty made a series of recommendations to Sinn Féin Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey, and the finalised strategy is expected to be launched next year.
Addressing Council’s Governance & Strategic Planning committee, the Ballyarnett representative said: “One in four people who are living in poverty in the north live in our council area. We have the highest levels of unemployment in the north. We have the highest levels of economic inactivity in the north. Five of the top ten most deprived areas in the north are across Derry and Strabane. Health inequalities are stark. Job prospects are bleak. And wage levels are the second lowest in the north.”
“But we are being proactive about this. We have commissioned research detailing the extent of the problem and the scale of the problem, so we can influence the outcome of the forthcoming anti-poverty strategy.”
Colr Farrell said it was up to local politicians and others to lobby Stormont for specific measures to tackle poverty in Derry & Strabane.
“The key issue for me and for the SDLP is that the expert panel’s recommendations had very little reference to targeted geographical interventions for areas that are experiencing high rates of poverty, and that’s us here in this council area.
“So it’s our job to make the case for Derry and Strabane to decision makers in Stormont who are developing this anti-poverty strategy.
“But not only in relation to the anti-poverty strategy, we need to make the argument across government departments to state the case for regionally balanced investment that will create jobs, opportunity and a better standard of living for people right across this council area.”