Chair of the North East Child Poverty Commission, Jane Streather, had the below letter published in The Journal on 16th November, with an abridged version published in The Guardian today, on the importance of properly funding free school holiday activities and food for all children living in poverty.
More than 209,000 children were living in poverty in the North East in 2017-18.
For many families school holidays can be a time of great hardship, with additional childcare costs and the absence of free school meals. That’s why the North East Child Poverty Commission (NECPC) has campaigned, alongside others, for better access to free holiday activities and food.
This year, following competitive bidding, the Government awarded £9m to 11 projects making this provision – with two in the North East. This money was welcome, but what about the many thousands of children living in poverty who missed out?
There were 11 unsuccessful bids for this funding – totalling more than £5.62m – from our region alone, which clearly illustrates the demand and need for such schemes.
Yet the Government has just published an ‘invitation to bid’ for 2020 holiday provision, with no increase in funding, meaning many thousands of children could again lose out.
The NECPC believes the next Government must end the pilot programmes and competitions for inadequate funding pots – and provide long-term funding for the universal provision of free holiday activities and food to all children living in areas where child poverty is high.
Jane Streather (Chair, North East Child Poverty Commission)
Work has to be a better route out of poverty. Most poor children have a working parent.