A project which has helped 500 North of Tyne families recover over £1m in unclaimed benefits to tackle poverty head on, has been given the green light to continue by North of Tyne Combined Authority.

Almost £2.5m has been approved which will enable poverty prevention and education improvement programmes, with employers and schools in the North of Tyne region, to continue for the next 12 months.

The extension will mean 281 schools will continue to receive support while the North of Tyne Combined Authority transitions to a new organisation in May.

Since the programme launched in 2022, 500 families have received practical and specialist advice to recover over £1m in welfare payments they were entitled to, including one family which received £11k in back paid benefits, for their disabled child.

Building on the work of local authority partners, the programme has used regional and national best practice to offer schools a bespoke package of support, aimed at reducing the impact of poverty and improving education. This has included specialist welfare advice and support, grant support, breakfast clubs, after school clubs and professional development for teachers.

Wrap around support with employers to reduce in-work poverty will also continue, a project which has supported 18,000 people so far and a new procurement framework to mobilise children and young people’s services, ready for the new academic year in September, was also given the green light.

North of Tyne Mayor, Jamie Driscoll said:

“We’ve invested £4.3m so far on tackling child poverty and improving education in the North of Tyne and we are the only Combined Authority in the country to do this. Why?

“Because the good jobs of tomorrow are not going to be taken up by kids who are too hungry to learn today. We cannot afford to leave people behind.

“We have made this decision today to reassure schools that they will continue to receive support while North of Tyne Combined Authority transitions to a new North East Mayoral Combined Authority in May. And I would like to see this work expanded and rolled out to all schools in the North East.”

Councillor Karen Kilgour, North of Tyne Combined Authority Lead for Education, Inclusion and Skills, added:

“We’re here to improve the life chances of our residents and this programme has already made such a difference to young people and their families.  We know that growing up in poverty is intrinsically linked with having poor health and wellbeing later in life.

“Extending the programme today is the right thing to do and will help us continue to work with our partners to tackle an issue felt by so many families in our region.”

Find more ahout our Child Poverty Prevention Programme.