News in brief (a round up of what happned child poverty wise during the week)
The week started on Sunday with a letter from 18 bishops being published in The Observer expressing concern about the effects of the cuts on the poorest children in our society. The Church of England, according to the letter, felt “compelled to speak for children who might be faced with severe poverty and potentially homelessness, as a result of the choices or circumstances of their parents” (my emphasis) This is interesting given that the main point raised in the letter are structural and related to welfare reforms and not individual behaviours.
On Monday morning, the Children’s Commissioners from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland published a mid-term report on the UN Conevention on the Rights of the Child which called for “an urgent reassessment of the impact of the Coalition Government’s Spending Review on the needs of vulnerable children”.
On Tuesday, the High Pay Commission published its final report that “sets out a 12-point plan based on transparency, accountability and fairness to halt spiralling high pay that is creating inequalities last seen in the Victorian era”
Wednesday saw the Children North East conference at The Sage Gateshead, with speakers such as Richard Wilkinson, Danny Dorling and Tracy Shildrick. The conference was attended by over 200 people from across the country but with a particularly strong turnout from the North East. The photographs taken by the young people as part of the project were shown on The Guardian website and the conference was also covered in The Journal and on BBC Radio Newcastle. Jeremy Cripps, the Chief Executive of Children North East wrote about the conference on his blog.
On Thursday, we launched our new logo designed for us by James and his team at Warm Design as part of their ‘Warm Communities’ programme. The logo represents an ‘unequal equals sign’ which works with the strapline of ‘Giving children and equal chance’. Some of James’s work can be seen below
Thursday also saw the announcement of a successful application for funding for a 3 year project called ‘Engaging with Employers – Tackling in-work poverty’ in ther North East. The funding, totalling over £80,000 has been received from the Millfield House Foundation. Specific pieces of work within this theme will include:
- Initiating the project with a ‘Call for Evidence’ to develop a business case for tackling in-work poverty. This exercise would be aimed at academics, employers, employees and campaigning groups and would specifically ask for evidence of improved business and economic outcomes as a result of implementing a range of ‘family friendly’ working practices.
- Working with Business in the Community on a ‘Seeing is Believing’ project focusing on the issue of in-work poverty. These projects involve a small number of directors and chief executives from some of the region’s largest employers and will be used to drive the engagement of business leaders in the project.
- Developing a Living Wage campaign in the region, supported by a robust business case and accreditation scheme, encouraging employers to pay their workers the National Living Wage, as calculated by the Living Wage Foundation of £7.20 per hour. The National Minimum Wage is currently £6.08.
- Highlighting best practice and business benefits in ‘family friendly’ employment terms and conditions, including support for childcare arrangements, approaches to flexible working and parental leave.
- Supporting employers to help employees ‘maximise household income’ through targeted work to encourage benefit take up and access to advice and financial services such as credit unions through the promotion of payroll giving
- Working with public sector employers to develop their commissioning and procurement arrangements to include clauses relating to family friendly working practices, provision of apprenticeships and the Living Wage.
- Encouraging businesses and employers to develop links with schools to support young people to realise their ambitions and to raise awareness of different career opportunities that are open to them.
Friday saw Nick Clegg announce a new Youth Contract which he claimed would ‘provide hope’ to young people out of work although the scheme has been likened to the YTS schemes in the 1980’s and has been criticised, by Labour, for being funded by cuts in working tax credit for families on low incomes
“To continue to deny money’s central role or to treat all poverty measures as merely subjective, as politicians often do, is as fatuous as arguing about the earth’s magnetic field. It is invisible but can be detected with the right instruments, and while science shows it varies from place to place and over time, its existence cannot be denied or adjusted on the grounds of political expediency”
Horses for Discourses by John Veit-Wilson (2000)
A deconstruction of a number of different poverty discourses employed by governments across Europe which also describes the approach of the previous Labour government as ‘intelectually incoherent’. Over a decade old now but still incredibly relevant and helps to locate some competing discusourses used by the current Coalition Government.
Looking ahead…. (announcements coming up that we’re aware of)
Contributions (over to you….)
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