New tactics in war on child poverty

Coun Simon Blackburn

Coun Simon Blackburn

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SIX priorities aimed at tackling child poverty in Blackpool have been laid out in a report due to go before councillors this week.

The action plan ranges from giving children a healthy start in life to building more stable communities for them to be brought up in.

Nearly a third of children in the resort – 9,200 – are living in households where income is less than 60 per cent of the national average.

The figure for some of the most deprived areas is more than half.

Blackpool also has between 470 and 560 families described as having “multiple problems”.

Town hall chiefs launched an investigation last year into how to best tackle the issue.

Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn (pictured) said: “I am pleased to see this issue making significant progress.

“We have been very clear, child poverty is a much bigger problem in Blackpool than had ever previously been acknowledged.

“I now want to drive forward robust actions which will contribute to our war on poverty, and which take account of forthcoming changes to housing benefit, universal credit and council tax benefit, and ensure our children are protected against the worst effects of these changes.”

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The six priorities laid out in the report are: to remove barriers to children achieving their full potential through education and employment; to provide appropriate support for vulnerable children; to ensure children have a healthy start to life; to build stable communities; to improve the financial stability of families; and to embed tackling child poverty in all other areas of council work.

Key projects include dealing with transience and illegal money lenders, while the Family Nurse Partnership is offering support for young first- time mothers.

Tools from a variety of sources will be used to help achieve the aims of the report.

These will be used at various stages of a child’s life with initiatives ranging from an infant feeding project right through to an apprenticeship programme for 18 to 24-year-olds.

The report, which will go to the council’s executive on Wednesday, identifies a number of reasons for poverty which include seasonal low pay, low skill levels, poor health, high rates of teenage pregnancy and bad quality housing.

It says: “The framework is based on the analysis of the drivers of child poverty in Blackpool.

“It is intended as an overarching document which helps shape the work we do towards supporting families in poverty, as well as identifying new actions to reduce or lessen its effects.”

In March, childcare experts, volunteers, councillors and charity leaders were among the delegates who met at the Winter Gardens for a Blackpool Together on Poverty conference.

Speakers included Children’s Society director Elaine Hindal who said other towns could learn from how Blackpool was tackling the issue.

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