NORTH Ayrshire Council has approved a new action plan to tackle child poverty, which has risen faster in the region than in Scotland as a whole.
Earlier this month, research published by the End Child Poverty Coalition covering 2020/21 showed that North Ayrshire and Glasgow City have the highest percentages of child poverty among Scottish local authorities, at 24.7% and 29.4% respectively.
The new child poverty action plan has been developed by the council’s Community Planning Partnership (CPP) and will use a multi-agency approach in partnership with communities, the private sector and the third sector.
The Council Cabinet has also agreed to set up a Child Poverty Council, chaired by Councilor Marie Burns, leader of the North Ayrshire SNP Minority Administration.
The remit of the council – which will be informed by the Scottish Government’s Child Poverty Plan – will be to monitor and implement a strategy to tackle the root causes of child poverty, and to advise the council and its partners on how best to employ their resources and economic levels to help local residents achieve financial independence and escape poverty.
The firm has also agreed to nominate North Ayrshire as a Pathfinder Local Authority to help with the Scottish Government’s ongoing ‘Best Start, Bright Futures’ initiative, which if successful could see the area benefit from a part of the government’s £5million Tackling Child Poverty Fund.
Councilor Burns said, “Addressing deep-rooted poverty, made worse by the current cost of living crisis, must be a priority for council.
“We already have a range of measures to support struggling families including, for example, the provision of food, financial advice and an ongoing investment of £500,000 to help families reduce the cost of the school day. These existing measures will be included in the new action plan.
“We also need to consider longer term sustainable approaches, including our commitment to build 1575 energy efficient homes to help tackle the threat of fuel poverty. million pounds to provide energy advice and grants to help make existing homes more energy efficient.
“The council will also work on how best to support people who are trying to return to work. One example is the fund recently approved by Cabinet to provide temporary passes to residents as part of a package of employability supports.
Burns added, “In advancing this work, we intend to work closely with our communities to bring about immediate and positive change and to fight poverty in our six localities to help struggling families and to give our children and young people the best possible start in life. .”
The End Child Poverty Coalition – made up of groups such as Scotland’s Child Poverty Action Group, Save the Children and Poverty Alliance – warned this month that child poverty remains “stubbornly” high in Scotland, with more than one child in five across the country living in poverty despite Universal Credit increases.
Although Scotland has lower child poverty rates than England and Wales, the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act requires the Scottish Government to ensure that less than 18% of children live in poverty by 2023/24.
While the campaign group welcomed the increase in Scottish Child Payment to £25 for all eligible under-16s by the end of the year, the campaign group advocated that the transition payments made in October and December are doubled.
Ed Pybus of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland commented: “Progress is being made, but as low-income families struggling to cope with soaring prices know full well, there is no room for complacency, and we need all levels of government to do their best to meet Scotland’s child poverty targets.