Monthly Archives: November 2011

Weekly Round up 25/11/11

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

Signpost of the week (we’ll try and identify some ‘further reading’ each week – reports or papers that are thought-provoking, controversial or just generally helpful….)

“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)

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation are due to publish their annual Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion report on Thursday 1st December. The report for 2010 can be found here.

Contributions (over to you….)

We would welcome comments, suggestions and contributions from our readers. If you have a particular question you would like to pose, a subject you would like to see covered – or cover – in the blog, please get in touch with us. If you’d like to suggest any new section or changes to the ones we’ve got above, please do so.

Best wishes,



Reframe the fight or tell it like it is?

A report launched earlier this week suggested that it was necessary to ‘reframe the fight to end child poverty’ as there had been a failure to connect with the public about the issue. The report was titled ‘Decent Childhoods’ and suggested this as the new approach.

The idea that ‘poverty’ as a concept fails to resonate with people or generate public support is not a new one and has been covered by Joseph Rowntree Foundation in their work around attitudes to poverty. People often think that poverty is something that exists in far away places and is something which is tackled through government aid and supporting charities with fundraising appeals. Where there is acknowledgement of poverty win the UK, it is often accompanied by a lack of sympathy or understanding and a belief that the problems are largely self-inflicted or, at the very least, the fault of the parents.

Inequality and injustice has been suggested as a proxy for engaging the public in debates around poverty and there is good evidence from the British Social Attitudes survey that a large majority of people in the UK believe that the gap between the highest paid and the lowest paid is too big. Decent Childhoods (DC) recognises these issues and works to address them in the hope of provoking ‘a broader conversation’ about children and childhood. The concept of ‘Decent Childhoods’ also has links with the idea of ‘Children’s Well-being’ that has begun to emerge in recent years and which considers the experience of childhood across a number of different indicators such as housing, health, education, environment, income and crime. The Coalition Government have also heralded a ‘new approach to child poverty’ which has included introducing new non-income related measures and a focus on ‘children’s life chances’.

The DC report raises some important issues for discussion – one of which must be do we actually need to present the argument differently or do we need to get better at making the original one? Other questions, not necessarily covered by the DC report could include trying to understand the role of the media in portraying child poverty and exploring the implications of a ‘full employment’ policy on those who are not available to the labour market for whatever reason. One way of making a better connection with the wider public could be to make ‘greater use of real-life stories and the voice of people with experience of poverty’ which the DC report does acknowledge was one potential strategy for raising public awareness. Unfortunately, it was never vigourously pursued. As Jon Cruddas, quoting Oscar Romero, says in the foreword “liberation will arrive only when the poor are the masters of their own struggle for liberation.”

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