There’s a direct link between current waste management practices in the handling of unwanted but reusable household goods – such as furniture and electrical appliances – and poverty levels in the UK.
Driven by environmental concerns (and rightly so), much public money and consultancy work is still spent looking at ways to stimulate demand for reusable or pre-used furniture. Sadly, the demand exists as austerity, benefit changes and cost of living increases continue to impact upon low income households. We’re not just talking about households on benefits; the `working poor’ now fall into this category.
Accessing reusable household waste is a major issue for furniture poverty organisations (FPOs). Since April 2013, many FPOs in Greater Manchester have experienced a 100% increase in demand for affordable furniture and other household items. Far too often, they have an insufficient supply of decent quality, pre-used household goods to meet that need. Also, as funding from many sources is cut, the provision by FPOs of free items to those most in need, is now an exception rather than the historical norm.
Some Greater Manchester boroughs still support households in crisis with emergency packages of food, fuel and essential furniture via their discretionary local welfare assistance fund. But budgets are severely restricted and new, rather lower cost pre-used items are often provided. Local authorities are missing a trick if they’re not working with and supporting their local furniture poverty charity.
We have a real opportunity to link up the waste, welfare and economic challenges at the local borough and wider Greater Manchester level. Collaboration, partnership and joint design of services is a start. Get in touch to find out more…