Michael Holmes, Policy and Partnership Officer, presented a summary of the consultation on the Government’s draft Child Poverty Strategy 2014-17 together with a draft consultation response.
The 2010 Child Poverty Act had established targets for reducing child poverty by 2020 and required the Government to produce a Child Poverty Strategy every 3 years
The most widely used target was relative low income which was based on the proportion of children living in households with less than 60% of median income. The target was to reduce this to less than 10% by 2020/21 from a baseline of 18% in 2010/11. The latest available figures for 2011/12 showed that 17% of children were in relative income poverty.
The Act also placed a duty on local authorities and their partners to co-operate to tackle child poverty, preparing and publishing a Local Needs Assessment and producing a joint local Child Poverty Strategy.
A Child Poverty Needs Assessment had been carried out in 2010 which had shown that 64% of the then 12,745 Rotherham children living in poverty were in a lone parent household. However, the recent trend, due in part to the tightening of benefit eligibility criteria, was for more single parents to be in work, therefore, the Assessment required updating to gain an understanding of the current picture.
It was proposed that, rather than developing a separate Child Poverty Strategy, the Early Help Strategy, with its focus on preventative work with children and families, would server as the primary vehicle for addressing or mitigating the effects of child poverty in Rotherham. Also Rotherham’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy had a specific poverty priority focussing particularly on reducing health inequalities and improving the skills and work readiness of those disengaged from the labour market.
A strategy for building resilience in Rotherham was also in development which would seek to provide improved co-ordination of the various poverty related initiatives and actions.
The deadline for responses was 22nd May. A draft response had been prepared regarding the specific consultation questions that were to be used to shape the next three-year Strategy: -
1. To what extent do you agree that the draft strategy achieves a good balance between tackling poverty now and tackling the drivers of intergenerational poverty?
2. Considering the current fiscal climate, what is your view of the actions set out in the draft strategy?
3. At a local level, what works well in tackling child poverty now?
4. At a local level, what works well for preventing poor children becoming poor adults?
5. What more can central government do to help employers, local agencies and the voluntary and community sector work together to end child poverty?
Discussion ensued on the proposed response:-
- Schools should place great emphasis on the destination of school leavers and use as 1 of their success criteria
- Free school meals would be extended to FE colleges
- The Government had announced colleges would be funded 17.5% less for an 18 year old – potential impact on delivery and contact that would be provided
Resolved:- (1) That the key aspects of the Strategy be noted.
(2) That the draft response be approved subject to the proposed amendment suggested.