Our three constituent local authorities Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland are working hard to address the causes and symptoms of child poverty across the North of Tyne. This is more important than ever; we know that the ongoing impacts of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis continue to make life more difficult for too many families and households in our area.

North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) is committed to giving every child in our region the opportunity to thrive. That’s why in June 2021, NTCA’s Cabinet approved a Child Poverty Prevention Pilot for the North of Tyne. Working with local authority partners and school leaders, we have developed a programme made up of three pillars:

                             Alt = Graphic Explaining Pillars of the Child Poverty Prevention Programme

The approach will be piloted in 30 schools across North of Tyne from June 2022 until July 2023 with a further 60 schools supported with a suite of in-school poverty interventions through pillar 1 of the programme during the 2022-23 academic year.

1.What will our innovative programme of poverty interventions look like?

We know that interventions work best when they are tailored, evidence-based and make use of trusted community settings and expertise. For this reason, NTCA commissioned Rocket Science to gain an understanding of existing poverty interventions across our area; what works well, what doesn’t and what can we learn from national best practice.

Participating schools will be able to choose from interventions such as Poverty Proofing© audits, supported review of school uniform policy into practice, afterschool clubs, family learning or bespoke support. A Child Poverty Prevention steering group made up of expert stakeholders will guide this pillar and the programme activity more widely.

2.Why and how will we bring welfare rights advice and support directly into school settings?

By providing easy access to welfare guidance, we aim to support families to better support themselves. Across our constituent authorities, we know there is strong existing practice offering individuals advice and guidance. Following a pilot in the Greater London Authority, we want to bring this advice and guidance into schools, making it easy for parent/carers to access and acknowledging the positive relationships schools have developed with parents

We have partnered with three organisations to support families in each of our constituent authorities (Newcastle Welfare Rights Service, Citizen’s Advice Northumberland and North Tyneside Citizen’s Advice) and their teams are working to suit the needs of each individual school and community in the programme, to maximise access to support for families.

3.What role can employers have in tackling child poverty?

Data tells us that employment is not always a route out of poverty. Besides paying a decent wage, employers can take practical steps to support employees experiencing financial insecurity.

The Working with Employers pillar of the Child Poverty Prevention Programme is being delivered by social enterprise Society Matters cic. Society Matters’ approach involves supporting employers across the North of Tyne area to step up their support to employees, particularly in developing strategies to improve their financial wellbeing.  The Society Matters team has developed a Poverty Reduction Framework for employers, which will be tested and evolve with understanding of regional best practice.

This pillar involves encouraging all employers across North of Tyne to reflect on working practices and to participate in a series of workshops to inform their own strategies. Here you can book to attend employer workshops and find helpful resources relating to this work.

Employers across the North of Tyne will be invited to participate in the programme, with a priority focus on those that have a high proportion of lower-paid employees with families. In part this will be through liaison with employers attached to local schools that are being supported through other aspects of the Child Poverty Prevention Programme, and working in partnership with North East Chamber of Commerce and local business networks, as well as employers that have signed up to NTCA’s Good Work Pledge.

NTCA’s Good Work Pledge is free to join and supports businesses on their journey to being recognised as a ‘Good Work’ employer. This means work that provides job security, skills, progression, and decent pay- which are all important in addressing the causes of child poverty in our region.

For more information about the Child Poverty Prevention Pilot Programme, please contact joanna.unthank@northoftyne-ca.gov.uk