Tackling the scourge of child poverty
The extent of child poverty in Leicester is laid bare in a report published today. More than 26,000 children – over a third of those in the city – are growing up in poverty. And this figure is likely to rise in the coming years as a result of the economic crisis engulfing the UK. Children in poverty are more likely to be left behind in education, live in bad housing, suffer ill health and miss out on things like holidays away from home.
Today's report is published by the Leicester Child Poverty Commission which is chaired by deputy city mayor Rory Palmer (who writes in First Person on the page opposite) and involves various organisations.
It has come up with an excellent set of recommendations about how to tackle this crisis. They are practical approaches which will make a real difference to people's lives.
For example, they include the recommendation that, in response to the growing demand for emergency food aid, Leicester City Council should work with other agencies to provide citywide co-ordination of food banks.
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Among other measures is the provision of household budget planning at least once a year in every part of the city, and proposals to work with landlords to develop longer term tenancies in privately rented homes to give families greater security and stability.
There are many more recommendations related to education, health and employment.
And the fact that this is a local initiative with different organisations in Leicester working together is vital to its success.
The reality is that the current national climate of austerity is not going to get any better in the immediate future and there are more cuts to come. The political debate about the rights and wrongs of the current coalition government's policies will continue to rage.
In the meantime, however, the initiative must be seized at a local level to identify ways in which child poverty can be tackled.
Today's report does exactly that.
It sets out an action plan which is deliverable and which can be put into practice quickly.
The deputy mayor and the members of the Leicester Child Poverty Commission are to be congratulated on their work.