The report was presented by Jo Broadbent.
The Chair commented that the government had abolished the child poverty act but the issues was still present. She noted that the report showed an increase to 1 in 3 children living in poverty and questioned the impact of this on children. Jo Broadbent answered that children growing up in poverty rwere affected by a range of factors such as future outcomes, growing up disadvantaged, poorer health, higher risk of teen pregnancy, risky behaviour and higher risk of this cycle leading into future generations. There was a need to work with parents to help them find well paid work.
The Chair noted the DfE’s plan to tackle child poverty through education and asked if this required more than just a focus on education. Jo Broadbent explained that this related to the next item on the agenda and that broader strategies were needed to address child poverty.
Referring to the State of the Nation government report, the Chair commented that this was the most recent data on child poverty and enquired what recommendations the service had taken from this report. Jo Broadbent stated that she would not be able to provide a full answer as the highlights from that report had been considered as part of the current report. She said that the State of the Nation report set out how Local Authorities could support families in deprived areas with free school meals and other initiatives to. She highlighted that there were a broader range of issues to consider alongside child poverty such as food poverty.
The Chair enquired about the Brighter Futures Strategy (BFS) and if Covid-19 pandemic had impacted upon this. She said that a range of other issues needed to be considered alongside the BFS. Sheila Murphy explained that this strategy was broken down into key priorities that included education and mental health. It looked at improving the lives of children and other agencies were involved such as Public Health, schools and the police to ensure a good representation on the board. She said that referrals had continued during Covid-19 and that missing education had caused issues for children and making sure that they were able to catch up with this. As services such as children’s centres had closed during the pandemic, parents were not able to use the support of these services and may have escalated to other issues such as mental health. She said that there were other funding such as for school holidays, activities that included lunch and the Essential Living Fund (ELF) from government.
The Chair asked how long the ELF process took. Sheila Murphy answered that the process was relatively quick as it was designed for emergency situations. The Local Authority had also put extra funding in to support this process.
The Committee agreed to suspend standing orders at 8.18pm to allow the agenda to be completed.
Referring to appendix 1, Councillor Watson asked if the JSNA was a continuous updated document every year. She asked if other JSNAs were fed into child poverty strategy. She sought clarification on the data used and the action place on child poverty. Jo Broadbent answered that the process was to cover a range of topics and not consider just one topic each year. She said that there were a range of JSNAs and council polices that included child poverty as these were interrelated and that the most up to date data was used. The Brighter Futures Strategy would be circulated to Members.
1.1 The Committee were asked to consider and comment on the content of the updated chapter for the Children’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment product.
1.2 The committee were asked to agree that this updated chapter is added to the published document.