Next week, councillors will hear a report on the efforts of Durham County Council and its partners to tackle poverty.
Members of the council’s cabinet will be briefed on how effectively the council has been able to help those affected by the government’s changes to welfare laws and by the challenge of continuing austerity.
Councillors will also hear of plans for an in-depth study of child poverty, which it is hoped will further develop understanding of the issue in County Durham, and will be asked to give the go-ahead for this research to take place.
The cabinet meeting is due to take place at the Glebe Centre, Murton, on Wednesday 18th January.
Councillor Lucy Howels, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for adult and health services, said, “Poverty can affect every area of a child’s development – social, educational and personal.”
“Living in a poor household can reduce children’s expectations of their own lives and lead to a cycle where poverty is repeated from generation to generation.”
“If we want to give children the best start in life, we need to target everything from health, education and employment to behaviour, finance, family and personal relationships.”
“In order to do this, we need to carry out detailed analysis of the issue and come to a better understanding of how it affects the lives of families in County Durham.”
If the research goes ahead, it would involve mapping service provision across the county in order to identify where new approaches and interventions are needed. It is also proposed that the council should work with the North East Child Poverty Commission.
The report that councillors are due to hear on the 18th will also highlight pressures on the Discretionary Housing Payments budget due to increasing demand from residents who are struggling to pay their rents. Discretionary housing payments are stand-alone payments given to tenants who are having problems covering their housing costs.
Facts about Poverty in the North East
- According to the North East Child Poverty Commission, one in four children in the north east live in poverty. This compares to around one in five nationally.
- The Commission says that 62% of children in poverty live in a household where at least one adult has a job. This is due to many jobs being low-paid, temporary, insecure or on zero-hours contracts.
- There are approximately 132,000 children living in poverty in the north east.
- In Middlesbrough, Hartlepool and Newcastle, one in three children live in poverty. These are some of the worst poverty rates in England outside of inner-city London.
- The north east is a poverty blackspot due to factors like high unemployment, high youth unemployment, and a concentration of low-skilled, insecure, part-time jobs.
- The government estimates that 14,000 people in the north east are paid less than the minimum wage.