Knowsley agrees strategy to tackle child & family poverty

Published on: Thursday, 28-January-2016

Knowsley Council’s Cabinet has today agreed a strategy that aims to tackle the issue of child & family poverty in the borough.

The plan sets out how the council, working alongside its partners, aims to take a proactive approach to address this important issue over the next three years. The overall aim being to ensure that every child in Knowsley gets the best possible start in life.
Cllr Gary See, Knowsley Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said:
“Tackling child poverty is a crucially important issue, not just in Knowsley but across the UK. We are already working with our colleagues in the City Region on this, and here in Knowsley we are keen to raise awareness and really focus own on efforts at a local level, to get the best results for our children and families.”
The strategy outlines five key areas that will aim to address some of the underlying reasons for child and family poverty. This includes promoting fair employment, ensuring children are ready for school, working with and supporting schools to help disadvantaged children achieve, addressing health inequalities and ensuring children and young people have access to affordable transport.
Under the Child Poverty Act 2010, the responsibility to reduce child poverty currently lies with local authorities, working with partners. 
Cllr See added: “If you consider just how much funding we have lost as a result of government cuts, it is even harder for us as a council to try to tackle issues like child and family poverty. But just because it is a challenge doesn’t mean this is something we will shy away from.
In spite of the continual challenge to balance our budgets we are taking a proactive approach and working with partners and the community to equip people with the tools and support they need to escape the poverty trap.”
Although the strategy has just been formally agreed, the Council has already taken steps to reduce child poverty in the borough. Back in October, it became a Living Wage employer, meaning that its lower-paid employees would earn a minimum of £7.85 an hour – which is £0.65 an hour more than the Government’s National Living Wage which comes into effect this April.  In addition, free childcare places for the most disadvantaged two year olds are being promoted and across the borough, particularly through the borough’s children’s centres which are very popular with residents.  The school meals programme also ensure nutritious meals are accessible to all pupils, whilst health initiatives and support is targeted where it is needed.
The council is also a member of the Liverpool City Region Child Poverty and Life Chances Commission, which includes representatives from the community, private and public sectors, health, police, housing, transport, education and other local authorities across the City Region.  The Commission will be launching an update of the Liverpool City Region Child Poverty and Life Chances strategy later this week (Friday, 29 January).  The recently approved council strategy is Knowsley’s response to how it will support the overarching City Region’s priorities and action plan to tackle child poverty and improve life chances for children and their families.
A full action plan to tackle child and family poverty over the next three years is available in the strategy – a copy is accessible on the Council’s website.