The national child poverty rate is on the increase with the Scottish Government estimating that more than 240,000 or 24% children live in relative poverty after housing costs. In Angus the figure is 5% below the national average but given that more than 4,200 children are experiencing issues Angus Council are taking a fresh approach to try and reverse the trend. Shelley Hague, Strategic Policy and Planning Manager, tells us more…
After coming into post in April 2018 I could see that to truly understand the full extent of child poverty and tackle the issues in Angus we needed to reinvigorate our partnership approach. Initially, the Community Planning Partnership (CPP) focussed on stakeholder mapping and held one-to-one sessions to fully understand the needs of our local communities, which in turn paved the way towards identifying new ways of working.
This work was given fresh impetus by the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 which places a requirement on local authorities and health boards to jointly produce a Local Child Poverty Action Report. To help steer this process we set up a Child Poverty Working Group in November 2018 and in recent months we’ve been working with partners through the Local Child Poverty Co-ordination Group – this includes NHS Health Scotland, Improvement Service, The Poverty Alliance, Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, Scottish Government, COSLA, Glasgow Caledonian University’s Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit, and the NHS National Services Scotland’s Local Intelligence Support Team.
Collectively the co-ordination group has responsibility for supporting children and young people and has really helped to raise the profile of the child poverty agenda. The group acts as a sounding board for ideas, projects and activities. It has also provided a single focus, rather than a community planning array of work, which has helped to simplify the overall process. The benefits of our extended peer group were wide-ranging. For example, third sector partners had great case studies, and welfare rights officers gave the legislative overview. In truth, every partner has something to offer and everyone feels part of the process.
In February this year, colleagues, including the two neighbouring CPPs from Dundee and Perth and Kinross met with regional and national partners at the Tay Region Child Poverty Summit. This examined existing knowledge, identified gaps, and provided constructive criticism, with the collective scrutiny helping to clarify our progress to date and cement our long-term plans.
The partnership is about to embark on self-assessment and this will be the real test. However, developing the Local Child Poverty Action Report has without a doubt provided a real anchor for our partnership with fresh tools, new motivation and a positive way forward to deliver on our priorities and deliver better lives for children in Angus.
It’s perhaps an obvious statement but when partners started to see progress they really started to engage more – not just with the child poverty work but across the board, and the approach is already delivering results in work to counter Period Poverty in our area.
Anecdotally, we feel the approach has been successful so far and we‘ll be using the same process to work through our remaining priorities to paint a really clear picture of what’s being delivered and having the greatest impact on making Angus a great place to live, work and visit.”