People with lived experience of poverty in Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and surrounding villages are being invited to contribute to a new national anti-poverty strategy by having their say on the issue of child poverty and how it can be addressed.
Scottish Government is in the process of working with local and national partners to develop a Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan for 2022-26. The new framework follows on from publication of Scotland’s first Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan three years ago.
Over the coming weeks, Cumbernauld Family Hub and Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub will be teaming up with The Poverty Alliance as part of Get Heard Scotland to gather a wide range of voices of people who have experienced poverty to ensure that local and national responses to poverty reflect what is happening in communities.
Child poverty can leave a lasting and devastating impact on the health and wellbeing of children and young people, including significant adverse effects on the educational attainment and life chances of those that experience it.
In Scotland, almost one in four children are currently growing up in poverty, with the numbers predicted to continue to rise in the years ahead. In Greater Cumbernauld, the reality and consequences of poverty are all too clear to see, as Cornerstone House Centre Development Manager Mary McNeil explained:
“Cumbernauld statistics in relation to the key deprivation indicators of income, employment, health, education, housing, access and crime compare less favourably than the Scottish average, and in some areas considerably less favourably.
“Indeed, Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) 2020 places the Cumbernauld data zone average deprivation rank amongst the worst third in Scotland.
“Approximately 15% of the Cumbernauld population is classified as income deprived, with the average annual earnings of a local resident being 3% lower than the Scottish average. Notably, 61% of those experiencing income deprivation locally do not live in the 15% most deprived neighbourhoods.
“Furthermore, it is believed that more than one third of households in Cumbernauld are living in fuel poverty, including 35% of households in the social rented sector. Food poverty is another area which has risen markedly over the last decade in Cumbernauld.
“Next year will see the release of Scottish Government’s new Tackling Poverty Child Delivery Plan. To this end, Cornerstone House Centre and The Poverty Alliance are encouraging people with lived experience of poverty to give their views on what the strategy should contain and focus on.
“With its acknowledged expertise in reaching poorer and vulnerable communities, the local voluntary sector in particular has been identified as central to the success of this strategic activity. Evidently, the essence of voluntary sector contributions in alleviating poverty has increased as the economy and size of the public sector has decreased in recent years.
“Examples of key organisations in the local area which play an influential role in this respect include, amongst others, Bethlehem House of Bread Food Bank, Christians Against Poverty (CAP), Cumbernauld and Kilsyth Care, Cumbernauld and Kilsyth Citizens Advice Bureau, Cumbernauld Poverty Action, Cumbernauld Resilience, Cumbernauld YMCA-YWCA and One Parent Families Scotland.”
The adoption of The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act in November 2017 was a central factor in triggering the current spotlight on addressing poverty. This legislation places a responsibility on Scottish Ministers to set objectives for reducing child poverty by 2030. Part of this involves establishing Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plans in 2022 and 2026.
It was in March 2018 that the inaugural Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, Every Child, Every Chance, was published. The Plan identified six priority family groups to be targeted in its implementation, namely lone parents, disabled parents, larger families with three or more children, families from BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) groups, families with children under one year-old and young mothers under 25 years of age.
Maximising incomes from work and earnings, reducing the cost of living and increasing income from social security were outlined in the Plan as three key areas for intervention. Within each of these areas, there was a set of actions to be undertaken by Scottish Government, local authorities (including North Lanarkshire Council) and health boards (including NHS Lanarkshire).
Noteworthy progress made during the three years of the Plan has included investment of more than £100 million in a free school meals programme, introduction of the Scottish Child Payment initiative, delivering new hardship payments to low income households and an uplift in the Scottish Welfare Fund.
The latest Every Child, Every Chance progress report, which was made available in June 2021, can be viewed by clicking here. Shona Robison, Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, commented:
“When we published our Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan in 2018 we could never have predicted a worldwide pandemic with the scale of impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).
“Whilst the crisis necessitated the pause of a number of key activities, we mounted an unparalleled response to protect people and communities.
“This has accelerated work in a number of key areas and shown the capacity and capability to make significant change at pace. We will carry forward this momentum as we focus on our national mission to end child poverty once and for all.
“Over the coming year, we will continue to work with the pace, passion and determination we have shown through our pandemic response in order to drive down levels of child poverty in Scotland.
“We will also work closely with our partners, experts by experience and with children and young people themselves in order to prepare our next Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan.”
HOW CAN CUMBERNAULD CITIZENS INFLUENCE CHANGE IN ADDRESSING CHILD POVERTY?
There are a few ways in which local people can communicate their views to key decision makers ahead of production of the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2022-26.
A vital component of the Get Heard Scotland process is gathering your views and ideas on how we can best address poverty in Scotland. Cornerstone House Centre is in the process of organising a session for the coming weeks in which local people with lived experience of poverty can provide their opinions.
If you would be interested in participating in this event, please contact Cornerstone House Centre on 01236 739220 or email email@example.com to express interest. Once your views are submitted, we will work with The Poverty Alliance to make sure that these are passed on to relevant Scottish Government, North Lanarkshire Council and NHS Lanarkshire officials.
A full presentation providing comprehensive information about Get Heard Scotland can be downloaded by clicking here.