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Sefton approves Child Poverty Strategy to combat impact of pandemic

As part of work to combat the effects of child poverty, which have been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sefton Council’s Cabinet has approved the development of a Child Poverty Strategy.

Developing the Strategy, in partnership with The Welfare Reform and Anti-Poverty Partnership, will help redress the impact of poverty on young people in Sefton from the COVID pandemic and Government welfare reforms.

Among its aims will be work to prevent families falling into poverty, and support to help those already in difficulty.

Resilience

Increasing family income and improving opportunities for employment and building resilience in local communities against the causes of poverty are key aims of the Strategy. Improving mental wellbeing, addressing stigma and exclusion and improving digital inclusion are also among its objectives.

The Council will work across the statutory, community, voluntary and faith sectors to ensure services are put in place to support families.

Impact

Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing said: “Poverty has the largest impact on infant mortality and during childhood, it is the first step to poor physical and mental health.

“More families in Sefton falling into the absolute or relative low-income category, eligibility for free school meals has risen during the pandemic and we have seen that the increase in Universal Credit has not been enough to bridge the gap for working families in poverty.

“Additionally, there is a high level of jobs in Sefton in the retail, healthcare, hospitality and leisure sectors which tend to be lower paid. These are also roles less likely to be possible to carried out from putting those people at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19. And, research shows a low income makes people significantly more likely to experience mental health illness.

Saddened

Cllr Hardy continued: “Although I am saddened that in 2021, we are forced into the situation where we need to develop a Child Poverty Strategy, I am pleased that doing so will help the Council to focus on lobbying for change to protect the most vulnerable children and young people in the Borough.”

Links to Sefton Council meetings can be found on www.sefton.gov.uk