OVER 25,000 SALFORD KIDS LIVING IN POVERTY…
"Unacceptable" write Council Leader John Merry and Margaret Morris Lead Member for Children's Services, in the intro to a new report calling for action to end child poverty in Salford… "It is unacceptable that the odds of having happy, healthy lives are stacked against any of our children"
According to the figures cited in this report, those odds of having `happy, healthy lives' are stacked against six out of every ten of our children. Which is surely not just `unacceptable', but shocking and disgusting too.
A child is in poverty, according to the report if, after housing costs, family income is
• £195 per week for a single adult with two dependent children under 14
• £279 per week for a couple with two dependent children under 14.
The report adds that child poverty is rife in certain neighbourhoods of the city, and in lone parent households, in large families, amongst minority groups and in families living with disability. These families have "only about £10 per day per person to cover all day-to-day expenditure including food, transport, clothing and bills as well as school trips and activities for children."
Children who grow up in poverty have "poorer health, wellbeing, educational outcomes and social lives and relationships both as a child and as an adult".
Using the official criteria of `children living in workless households' (registered unemployed or receiving out of work benefits) Salford had 11,900 children living in poverty in 2008, the second highest in Greater Manchester and within the worst 10% of local authorities nationally.
However, if low incomes are taken into account, from Tax Credit record figures, another 14,000 children are added into the equation. As the report states…"This means that the true level of all child poverty in Salford could be closer to 60%".
Since the last official child poverty statistics were published in 2008 the figures have got even worse as recession has loomed…
"Levels of unemployment have risen sharply across the UK and, in Salford, the number of adults receiving Jobseekers' Allowance almost doubled between June 2008 and Dec 2009" the report states "…local assessments suggest that an estimated 1,100 Salford children have moved into workless poverty over this period."
To try and lift more children out of poverty the report talks about "urgent and collective action" by a wide range of agencies "to deliver on this critical issue", while acknowledging that "the public sector is facing significant budget restrictions" and will have less money from government.
To cope, the report mentions `joined up agendas', `joined up delivery models' and a new `Place Board for the delivery of outcomes' to "seize the moment". Unfortunately, Salford Council and its partners have had no choice in `seizing the moment', as the new Child Poverty Act which came into force in March this year "places duties on local authorities and other local delivery partners to …work together to reduce child poverty".
During Salford's four `boom years' of investment, from 2004 until 2008, 1,500 children moved out of official `workless' poverty…and in just 18months, from June 2008 until December 2009 an estimated 1,100 children moved back into official `workless' poverty.
Now, in what the report calls "a more challenging environment" the aim is to move 700 children out of poverty by 2011 and more than 8,000 children out of poverty by 2020 in order to "eradicate" it in Salford… But even this target would only end `official poverty' of workless households and not Salford Council's own definition of child poverty which includes those living in low income households (14,000).
The main way out of poverty, the report explains, is work. And it lists all sorts of things that the Council is doing to help residents obtain skills and employment - from MediaCityUK to a `pre-employment Academy'.
However, while hundreds of millions of pounds of public money have been pumped into Central Salford – to developers, to MediaCityUK, to Salford Innovation Park etc – the main areas for poverty and, hence, child poverty, are still in Central Salford. Which raises questions about how all this money has been spent…
See the full Ending Child Poverty IN Salford report here
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