North Ayrshire Council reaffirms child poverty commitment

North Ayrshire Council has reaffirmed its commitment to tackling child poverty throughout the region.

A number of issues including low-paid jobs, a high cost of living and more recently, Covid-19, have all had an adverse impact on the number of children living in poverty.

New data published by the End Child Poverty coalition highlights that child poverty has risen in every Scottish local authority since 2015 with an estimated 27.9% of children in North Ayrshire living in poverty in 2019/20.

The council said that no child should live in poverty, but this is an unacceptable reality that it currently faces. This is why North Ayrshire Council have made it a key priority to create a fairer and more equal society.

In October last year, the council published its second annual Child Poverty Action Plan which drives forward its desire to reduce child poverty.

It highlights a number of key initiatives and activities being undertaken in North Ayrshire to lessen child poverty in the region including:

  • The acclaimed holiday school meal programme (replaced by a voucher scheme during the pandemic) that ensures every child, no matter their background, has access to a healthy meal when they’re not at school
  • Developing innovative ways to reduce the cost of the school day for parents including ‘poverty proofing’ the curriculum - to make sure all pupils have access to resources they require and a chance to go on trips - and setting up uniform recycling stations
  • Tackling period poverty by introducing free sanitary products in secondary schools and all public buildings and more recently, offering pupils a ‘period product subscription’ that is delivered to a home address
  • Investing in our house building programme to increase the availability of affordable and energy efficient homes to reduce living costs, keeping rent levels lower that the national average and installing solar panels to assist with energy costs
  • Creating a North Ayrshire Fairer Food Network to give families more affordable access to food provision in a dignified way
    Community Wealth Building – the new economic model adapted by the council to help create new, well paid jobs with the aim to make the economy more resilient.

Councillor Robert Foster, cabinet member for health and social care and lead member for poverty, said: “The recent Child Poverty figures are simply devastating. We are under no illusions that child poverty is a serious and ongoing issue within North Ayrshire and we’re utterly committed to playing our part in addressing inequalities within our communities.

“Despite being at the forefront of new ideas to treat the symptoms of poverty - including our period poverty initiative, reducing the cost of the school day, Council Tax exemptions for care experienced young people and our holiday school meal programme – poverty must be tackled at its root cause to break the cycle that currently exists.

“There is a clear link between poverty and the economy so we must focus on building a strong economy in North Ayrshire. That’s why our Community Wealth Building strategy is so important.

“Community Wealth Building will not only address the symptoms of poverty, but it will start to tackle the structural causes of poverty by creating new, well paid jobs to make our economy more resilient.

“We will continue to invest in and support our communities but there needs to be a national mission to eradicate child poverty, with particular focus on areas like North Ayrshire which need the most help.”

Read North Ayrshire Council’s Child Action Poverty Plan 2020/21 here.

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