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Committee Updated On Work Being Undertaken To Produce 20/21 Local Child Poverty Action Update Report

20th May 2021

Members of Highland Council's Health, Social Care and Wellbeing Committee, which met virtually yesterday, were informed of the work being undertaken to finalise the 2020/21 Local Child Poverty Action Update Report.

In 2017, the Scottish Government introduced the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act, which outlined responsibilities on both the Scottish Government and local partners to address child poverty.

Local authorities and health boards jointly prepare annual Local Child Poverty Action Reports which set out activities that have been undertaken in the local authority area during the previous year to reduce child poverty and contribute to the delivery of the national targets and any planned future activities.

The latest iteration of this report is currently being finalised and will provide a summary of actions undertaken to address Child Poverty during 2019/20 and actions to be taken during 2020/21.

This report will be presented to the next Health, Social Care and Wellbeing Committee which is scheduled for August 2021 and will have a particular focus on:

The impact of COVID-19 on employment;
Educational Outcomes;
The impact of COVID-19 on cost of living;
Fuel Poverty;
Debt;
Food Insecurity;
The impact of COVID-19 on income from social security and benefits.
Committee members also acknowledged a new report published by Loughborough University yesterday which revealed that even before the pandemic, in some parts of the UK, the majority of children are growing up in poverty once housing costs are taken into account.

This research found that 24.3% of children in Scotland were in poverty before Covid-19 struck in 2019-20, up from 22% in 2014-15.

Within Highland’s constituencies, Loughborough University’s report highlights that:

Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey experienced a change from 20.1% (2014-15) to 21.9% (2019-12);
Ross, Skye and Lochaber increased from 20.6% (2014-15) to 22.7% (2019-12);
Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross saw a move from 22.5% (2014-15) to 26.3% (2019-12).
Chair of the Health, Social Care and Wellbeing Committee, Councillor Linda Munro, said: "There is no doubt that child poverty has negative and long-lasting effects on the health, wellbeing and educational attainment of the children who experience it, but it also has a much wider cost for society and our local communities.

She continued: “The Local Child Poverty Action Update Report serves an important role, and as illustrated by the constituency-level breakdown provided in Loughborough University’s report, evidences the increases in child poverty for so many of our Highland children. It is therefore essential that we continue with our multi-agency approach to child poverty in Highland."

In addition, members received an update on a number of schemes which the Council has successfully administered locally on behalf of Scottish Government to reduce financial insecurities and inequalities. These include:

free School Meal vouchers for qualifying low-income families whose children receive free meals in schools.
a Christmas £100 COVID Hardship Payment for qualifying low-income families whose children receive free meals in schools.
a local Fuel Support Scheme for households in receipt of council tax reduction who are also experiencing fuel insecurities.
an Easter £100 COVID Hardship Payment for qualifying low-income families whose children receive free meals in schools and early learning and childcare settings.

Pandemic Support Payments of £130 are planned for households receiving Council Tax Reduction. Timescales for delivery of these payments will be announced by the Scottish Government in due course.

 

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