Memorandum submitted by the London Borough
of Newham (CP 12)
1. EXTENT OF
The forthcoming research commissioned by Newham
Council "Poverty and Deprivation in Newham: report on the
findings of Year 1 of the Newham Household Panel survey"
by University of Essex has identified that "Newham suffers
extreme levels of deprivation and poverty." Two-thirds of
local children are living in poverty.
The report assesses what the Newham Household
Panel Survey can tell us about poverty in Newham. The report focuses
on both measures of income poverty including financial debt and
measures of hardship or deprivation including housing quality.
It also considers state benefit use; and it looks at subjective
measures of poverty and respondents' prognosis concerning their
The report uses standard poverty lines of 50%
of national mean income and 60% of national median income to demonstrate
the extent to which Newham is deprived relative to the country
as a whole. Results are compared for Britain, based on the British
Household Panel Survey, and Newham with the national estimated
derived from the Department for Work and Pensions' "Family
Resources Survey" and which are provided in the annual "Households
Below Average Income" series.
Percentage of individuals in poverty by
age, Britain 2001 and Newham 2002.
||Poverty rates in Britain 2001
||Poverty Rates in Newham 2002
Other key findings are:
A fifth of Newham benefit units are supported
by Income Support or Minimum Income Guarantee compared to 10%
30% of people in Newham are on an income-related
benefit, which is approximately one-and-a-half times the national
The percentage of households for which a loan
is a burden is 54.5% in Newham, compared with 35.8% in Britain
as a whole.
2. QUIDS FOR
Newham Council launched their Quids for Kids campaign in
July 2003 to ensure that parents claim all the tax credits and
benefits they are entitled to. According to Department for Work
and Pensions estimates, 50% of disabled children are not getting
the Disability Living Allowance they are entitled to and under
the old Tax Credits system one third of working families were
missing out on Working Families Tax Credit, the predecessor of
the Working and Child Tax Credits. Many parents are also missing
out on Housing and Council Tax Benefits and free school meals.
Newham's campaign is part of the Local Government Association's
national Quids for Kids initiative which encourages local action.
The first phase of Newham's campaign includes the following:
A borough-wide publicity campaign through our
Quids for Kids Leaflet summarising all benefits/tax credits. This
has been distributed via schools and will be promoted at all of
the Community Roadshows in July and August as well as at many
school and other community events.
Displays in Local Service Centres and libraries
in July-August and posters on the Council's JC Decaux poster sites
Library bookmarks during July and August.
Introduction to benefits and tax credits training
sessions for front-line workers who work with children, including
Sure Start staff starting in July 2003.
Magazine and newsletter articles
Talks for groups and stalls at events.
Tax credit publicity through the SRU Employer
CD-ROM on tax credits and targeting Council staff through staff
events, newsletters and the Intranet.
Specialist flyers on to encourage Child Tax Credit claims
by students and Working Tax Credit by pregnant women are being
targeted via colleges, universities and the health service.
The Social Regeneration Unit are working in partnership with
the Council's Early Year's Unit and the Children's Information
Service on this phase of the campaign
A specialist phase of the campaign will be launched in the
autumn on disabled children, particularly aiming to address low
take-up of Disability Living Allowance. The campaign will start
at JFK Special School. Parents of disabled children who are assessed
in the new inter-agency joint assessment will also be offered
a benefit check by the Council's Social Services Welfare Benefits
team. Plans are currently being developed to target disabled children
in mainstream schools.
3. NATIONAL CAMPAIGNS
We would like to see local initiatives like the Newham Quids
for Campaign rolled out nationally, with the Department for Work
and Pensions and the Inland Revenue working in partnership to
make resources available and establish challenging take-up targets.
The Inland Revenue could have a valuable role nationally
in working with employers to encourage employers to promote tax
credits to their employees. The Newham Council campaign to encourage
take-up of tax credits in 2001-02 resulted in a 10% increase in
the value of WFTC claimed. I have sent by post a copy of the LB
Newham Employer CD-ROM which includes many resources such as sample
payslip messages, staff magazine features and links to the Inland
Revenue website and has recently been sent to 150 local employers
in the borough. We have approached the Inland Revenue to share
this information with them but have been disappointed that they
are uninterested in doing this sort of work with employers.
The Department for Work and Pensions need to develop a take-up
strategy to address the 50% underclaiming of Disability Living
Allowance and improve their customer service operations so that
there is established a local service who can help with form completion,
on the lines of the local Pensions Service, where home visits
can be requested and local surgeries are organised.
4. LEGISLATIVE CHANGE
Two changes are needed to reduce child poverty:
We support the Child Poverty Action Group's campaign
to increase levels of Child Tax Credit by £5 a week. An extra
£5 will make a real difference to meeting the Government's
child poverty target for 2004-05 and to eradicating child poverty
within twenty years.
A higher Working Tax Credit childcare element
for London is needed to address the higher costs of childcare
10 September 2003