North East Councils highlight actions to tackle Child Poverty
09 June 2014
Tackling child poverty is critically important for current and future generations and is a priority for councils across the North East. ANEC has submitted a strong response to the Government consultation on actions it will take over the next three years to tackle child poverty.
In our response we welcome:
The focus on creating employment opportunities and reducing the number of workless households alongside measures to tackle low pay, provide greater certainty of income and to lift families out of paying tax
- The extension of support for 85% of the costs of childcare under Universal Credit. It is important, however, that employment support services are given sufficient resources to make a real difference to the families who can benefit from them
- Action to improve living standards and particularly the recognition that raising income is the primary aim while reducing costs reduces the impact of poverty on families but cannot lift families out of poverty
- Action to improve the educational attainment of children living in poverty through a variety of measures. In the North East we are looking at how we can take forward an ‘education challenge’.
Moving beyond these, we would like to see in the strategy a clear vision of how child poverty is to be tackled for those currently in poverty, those who might face poverty in the future, and a focus on the root causes of poverty.
ANEC recommends that a national child poverty strategy should provide long term commitment and action from Government that gives a framework to enable local action and flexibility that will meet the needs of children living in poverty now and into the future.
Our response to the consultation highlights what new and more ambitious actions we would like to see beyond what is already being done or announced by the Government. Without these actions, it is difficult to see how the Government’s child poverty reduction targets by 2020 can be met. We are proposing, therefore, that a focus be given in the strategy to the following:
- More concerted efforts to create more jobs and better quality jobs, particularly in labour markets – such as those in much of the North East – where the availability of a range of jobs remains low
- Increased practical and financial support for families to secure quality employment, including more investment in training, guidance, childcare, and travel subsidies
- Recognising the variation in how child poverty plays out in different parts of the country, the Government to allocate resources based on need and/or level of challenge
- Positive action to tackle low wages - enforcing the Minimum Wage is not a strategic action, it is upholding the existing law
- Changing the discourse and negative attitudes towards poor children in the education system so that they are not viewed as a ‘problem’ to be solved but the basis by which we measure and deliver a truly world class education system. A change in focus of education policy towards children in poverty is needed which recognises the system needs to be changed and not the children.
Read the full response here.
Read more about our work on family poverty here.