Working for North East families

In April 2012, the North East Child Poverty Commission commenced work on a 3 year project exploring how to engage employers in ending child poverty. This project is funded by the Millfield House Foundation.

There was a desire amongst Commission members to tackle the image of those people living in poverty in response to media representation and political rhetoric about ‘scroungers’ ‘welfare dependency’, ‘intergenerational cultures of worklessness’ and a general ‘behaviourist’ approach to poverty. A Communications group set up to discuss ways to do this and the issue of in-work poverty was highlighted as a good way of countering some of the issues listed above, as well as being an issue that needed to be explored in its own right. Around 60% of children growing up in poverty live in a household where at least one person works – equivalent to around 75,000 children in the North East.

The project does not involve any primary research at this stage. Instead, it aims to disseminate existing evidence, testing the assumption that, as Stephen Bevan from The Work Foundation has put it the ‘analysis of the problem is impeccable but our track-record of delivery and execution at firm-level is, at best, patchy’. The work is based on the belief that being a responsible employer and ensuring  that employees are paid a decent wage should not necessarily be ‘bad for business’. There is a large amount of evidence that suggests that responsible employment practices can be extremely benefitical to employers and businesses in the long term.

A number of themes have been identified in a literature review covering responsible business practice in a number of areas which will have an impact on in-work poverty. These include:

  • Living Wage
  • Maximising Household Income
  • ‘Family friendly’ practices
  • Workplace democracy
  • Commissioning and procurement
  • ‘Good’ work

These themes are being explored and developed in partnership with a number of organisations across the North East. These include Business in the Community, North East Chamber of Commerce, CBI North East , Federation of Small Businesses and Northern TUC, all of whom are represented on the steering group for the project.

Updates on the project and discussions around some of the key themes will be posted on the main blog.

If you would like more information on the project, please contact Stephen Crossley at s.j.crossley@durham.ac.uk


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