Treanor MC (2017) Actions to prevent and mitigate child poverty in South Ayrshire Community Planning Partnership. What Works Scotland. http://whatworksscotland.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/WWS-SAreview-April2017.pdf
Local Authorities have duties under the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and the broader social policy framework of the Scottish Government, to improve the health and wellbeing of children living in poverty. The 2017 Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill places a requirement on local authorities to prepare and publish a local child poverty action report.
Local authorities and Community Planning Partnerships (CPP) do not have control over the macro-economic or political factorsthat drive the incidence and prevalence of child poverty. They can harnesstheir resources to the prevention and mitigation of child poverty locally, and exert their influence on Scottish and UK policies to support them.
It is important to address the misunderstandings of the causes and consequences of child poverty among local authority and CPP staff and to take steps to reduce stigma for those living in poverty, to counter the confusing narratives that blame families for their own poverty.
The causes of child poverty are often confused with its consequences. Child poverty is not caused by individual behaviours but by a complex blend of structural issues relating to macro-economic and political factors governing the labour market, employment and social security. Social factors make particular groups especially vulnerable to poverty, e.g. children, lone parents, disabled people and BME groups.
Key strategies that can be effective in reducing poverty include:
Income maximisation. The CPP can increase uptake of benefit entitlements; provide accessible money advice services; prevent or mitigate the effects of benefit sanctions; review policy on economic development to ensure good quality and family friendly employment; and addressthe poverty premium.
Education. The CPP can encourage take up of free school meals and school clothing grants, investigate which costs of the school day could be abolished, and build positive relationships with parents so that they feel comfortable accessing available supports.
Childcare. The CPP can take steps to improve current provision by assessing whether there is sufficient childcare available for working parents; exploring funding models that use a sliding scale; and supporting voluntary, community or parent-led providers of childcare, and ensuring provision is of high quality.
Support for lone parents. The CPP can take account of the needs of lone parents across council services of work, support, childcare and education.
Wider factors including health, disability, housing, transport and area regeneration are important in impacting families in poverty but too broad to be included in this review.