Select Committee on Work and Pensions Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Local Government Association (CP 26)


  1.  The Central and Local Partnership in 2002 agreed shared priorities for public services, one of which concerns improving the quality of life for children and one strand of this covers the pledge to eradicate child poverty.

  2.  The LGA endorses the four main themes of the Government's strategy to tackle child poverty as set out in Opportunity for All:

    —  Making work possible.

    —  Providing financial security and inclusion.

    —  Breaking the cycles of deprivation.

    —  Improving public services for all.

  3.  As community leaders, employers and service providers, local government is central to the delivery of these four elements, and the LGA position paper gives a range of examples of the parts played local authorities. While DWP and the Treasury accept this to be the case in theory, the key role of local government is not necessarily always reflected in practice when designing and reviewing policy centrally. Alongside this recognition, there needs to be a strategy to ensure the role of local government is adequately resourced and supported in its work to tackle child poverty.

  4.  Collaboration between central government and the LGA on the issue of child poverty has improved over the last couple of years, and we are pleased to be currently negotiating an Accord and corresponding partnership forum for future joint work on child poverty.

  5.  Some of the issues which the LGA has been discussing with central government are:

    —  Better and more timely data (knowing who is poor and where they are clearly affects the design of solutions).

    —  Better and wider dissemination of good practice and what works.

    —  More co-ordination between national, regional and local strategies.

    —  Further progress on consolidating funding streams, while ensuring sustainability of the work carried out by area-based initiatives.

    —  A continued expansion of funding, for example for SureStart and Children's Centres.

  6.  The LGA suggests that the approach taken in the Government's programme for action for "Tackling Health Inequalities" of developing the evidence base and building capacity could be usefully applied to the child poverty pledge. We suggest that as well as an annual report on poverty, the Government should also develop a co-ordinated forward looking plan, bringing together the elements covered in Opportunity for All.

  7.   At this stage we are unable to assess fully the "effectiveness of the Government's strategies to reduce child poverty" as it is extremely difficult to evaluate many of today's initiatives. Many will only produce measurable outcomes for children in years to come. Furthermore it may never be completely clear which improvements were the result of which initiatives. This provides a challenge to decision makers at local and central government level charged with working out where limited resources should be most effectively targeted in order to achieve the 2010 and 2020 child poverty targets.

Emma Knights,

Senior Project Officer

September 2003

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