Child poverty action plan

Conference to focus on child poverty in Blackpool and (below) Blackpool Councillor Amy Cross.
Conference to focus on child poverty in Blackpool and (below) Blackpool Councillor Amy Cross.
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A PLAN of action to tackle poverty in Blackpool will be set before town hall chiefs next week.

Attracting jobs, ensuring children get a nutritious start to the day and adopting policies to improve housing provision are among the priorities laid out in the report.

The latest available figures, from 2009, show 29.5 per cent of children in Blackpool are living below the breadline – around 9,200 youngsters.

This includes more than half of children in Bloomfield – one of the town’s most deprived neighbourhoods.

The overall level of poverty in the resort is now 7.6 per cent higher than the national average.

A cross-party group of councillors led by Coun Lily Henderson, from the Conservative group, will present their findings to the council’s scrutiny committee next Thursday.

Coun Henderson said: “One of the main things we are saying is we have to bring more work to Blackpool in order to provide employment so that people can support their families.

“I would like to see more manufacturing, and as a country I think we need to bring work back here.

“For example, we have our beautiful new trams being delivered at the moment which have been built in Germany. Why couldn’t they have been built in this country?

“It is important to provide work in order to give people their pride back.”

It is also being recommended residents are given priority when it comes to job creation, and that the council supports local businesses through its purchase of goods and services.

The scrutiny is also calling for breakfast clubs to be introduced at all Blackpool schools in order to ensure children get the best start to the day.

Coun Henderson said: “We would like schools to open early in the mornings and provide breakfasts, not only during term-time but during holiday time too to make sure children are looked after 52 weeks of the year.”

She added: “I remember when my father was unemployed during the General Strike, and we had to live off bread and dripping. But we have brought our children up to expect so much more, and in this day and age that is only right.”

A steering group has also been set up including Coun Gillian Campbell, portfolio holder for housing, Coun Amy Cross, member for young people, Sarah Riding, member for equality and diversity and Kath Rowson member for adult social services.

Their report contains 28 areas which require action, tackling things like how people access benefits, source jobs and manage debt, as well as calls to stimulate the economy.

Both reports will be used in the setting out of a new family poverty strategy for Blackpool.

Meanwhile community campaigns have already been successful in helping some of the town’s most vulnerable residents.

The Give A Little... Help A Lot appeal, organised by the council along with partners including The Gazette, raised more than £50,000 to ensure Christmas gifts were distributed to children who otherwise might have had to go without.