Child poverty plan approved

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  • Proposals aim to reduce the number of youngsters living below the poverty line
  • Knowsley remains one of the most deprived areas in Britain
  • Councillors offer free childcare for the most disadvantaged
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Council chiefs have agreed a new coordinated strategy aimed at tackling child poverty in the borough.

The plan is set out to reduce the number of youngsters living below the poverty line in Knowsley over the next three years.

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

Coun Gary See

A number of recent Government studies have named Knowsley as one of the most deprived areas in the country.

Coun Gary See, 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.

Coun 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.