We’re failing our kids - Fight to tackle child poverty in Calderdale

Child poverty is on the increase (image posed by an actress)
Child poverty is on the increase (image posed by an actress)

The fight to tackle child poverty in Calderdale continues with a total of 8,625 children living in income deprived homes.

The figure released comes in a report reviewing the work being done by the Child Poverty Taskforce and the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index showed that 21 per cent of all children aged 0-15 in Calderdale live in deprived households.

The taskforce has overseen the development of actions to date in alleviating child poverty coordinated a one off fund of £100,000 for projects in the borough to alleviate the 
problem.

However, Calderdale Council’s Director of Public Health, Paul Butcher, said in his report:

“Some of the projects have been successful in their endeavours, others less effective and as a result one contract has ended early.

“The Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel can be assured that the contracts are being monitored and that where performance is not satisfactory action is taken to ensure public money is used to best effect.”

“Child poverty is a ‘wicked’ issue and is influenced by numerous factors, some of which partners in Calderdale have little influence over.

“There is no easy solution to resolve child poverty, but by focusing on those things that we do have control over locally and delivering defined outcomes in those areas we can demonstrate we are delivering real change to the residents of Calderdale.”

Halifax MP Holly Lynch voiced her concerns over the figures and said: “The failure to reduce child poverty, and in particular the increase in the use of food banks, since 2010 is unacceptable.

“Further welfare cuts from George Osborne are only going to make life harder for the most vulnerable in our area. Young people will be the next generation of Halifax and so surely it makes sense to give them every chance to do well in life.”

The Child Poverty Taskforce (CPTF) was formed in 2014 and represents a partnership approach to the challenges presented in tackling child poverty.

There is cross party representation, along with senior officers and key stakeholders including school governors.

The Council holds an annual early years and childcare convention to bring providers together to give advice and guidance to improving the quality of early years learning and development across Calderdale, with a particular focus on narrowing the gap between the achievement of people with different backgrounds.

Councillor Megan Swift, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services, said: “Helping to give people a good start in life is vital.

“The Council has an important role in promoting the development of young children.

“We know that a good foundation in the early years helps children achieve more at school and boosts their long-term health and employment prospects.

“Getting this right from the start not only helps them achieve their very best, it also plays a part in reducing family poverty.”

Child poverty will rise over the next five years as families feel the impact of the Government’s welfare cuts, according to a respected thinktank.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies forecasts that many households will see incomes rise slowly although faster than inflation but poorer families will see no growth in real terms.

Rob Jackson, Area Director for The Children’s Society in Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “Families on low incomes across Yorkshire and the Humber are facing a barrage of cuts.

“If ministers are genuinely concerned about child poverty they must reconsider plans to freeze benefits over the next four years.

“Austerity has hit families hard, including those in work. Further cuts to support would push more children into poverty and undermine incentives for families to move into work or earn more.”