Issue - decisions
Child Poverty - Budget Option
A report by the Chief Executive advised the Cabinet that the local authority has a statutory duty to work with partners to develop a Wirral Child Poverty Strategy as set out in the Child Poverty Act 2010.
The Cabinet were further advised that the discussions of Wirral’s Child and Family Poverty Working Group have informed the development of a draft ‘Roots and Wings’ strategy and action plan which was approved by Cabinet on 13th October 2011 as the basis for further consultation and engagement. Central to the discussions of the independent Working Group has been the need for all partners to work with each other to add value to existing provision and the need to utilise the positive assets of local communities in raising the aspirations of children and families. The report provided an update on the development of the action plan, and highlighted some of the work that is already being taking forward within the scope of the draft ‘Roots and Wings’ strategy.
It was reported that the Council’s budget resolution of the 1st March set out a commitment to tackling intergenerational poverty in Wirral and agreed an investment of £400,000 to take forward the ‘Roots and Wings’ strategy. Council also agreed that the independent Working Group is best placed to determine and prioritise where this investment should be made to best effect in local communities. This report therefore provided initial views from the Working Group as to the allocation of the funding.
Frank Field MP was in attendance at the meeting and presented an application to establish a free school from twelve weeks of pregnancy. The aim of Springboard was to teach young people parenting skills and ensure children were ready for their first day of school.
Mr Field hoped that the project would begin during the early stages of pregnancy and go some way to halting the cycle of "intergenerational poverty."
This application was being made because local young people had informed Mr Field that they wanted to learn how to make life-long friendships and how to be good parents. The idea was not to worry about buildings but to begin a service from the twelfth week of pregnancy where the Council could work with expectant mothers. During the first years of a child’s development, their life chances were determined, particularly those from the poorest backgrounds. The Springboard project would work with parents when their baby was still in the womb to make them more useful than they would otherwise be.
Springboard would be very much a Wirral project of cutting edge ideas. No-one had done this before and it involved thinking very much outside of the box. Under the proposal, the school would operate from a number of centres with its headquarters based at Tranmere Community Centre and the most vulnerable mothers and children would gain enhanced support. The Birkenhead Education Trust, which would run Springboard, was also working with St Anselm’s College and Prenton High School on a pilot scheme to find out how parenting skills can be integrated into the curriculum.
If successful, Springboard was expected to be rolled out across the country to improve skills among young people and create better life chances for future generations.
(1) Frank Field MP be thanked for his attendance at the meeting and for his informative presentation;
(2) Cabinet wishes to express its thanks to all members of Wirral’s Child and Family Poverty Working Group for their work so far on this initiative and welcomes the close involvement of voluntary, community and faith organisations in this Group;
(3) Cabinet welcomes the radical and innovative approach described in the establishment of ‘Springboard’ a free school specifically aimed at breaking decisively the intergenerational inheritance of poverty;
(4) Cabinet therefore, recommends to the Working Group that £300,000 of the £400,000 budget be allocated to assist in the establishment of this initiative; and
(5) the Acting Director of Children’s Services be requested to provide any help needed in respect of this project.