Regional conference to put child poverty back on political agenda

Regional conference to put child poverty back on political agenda

15th January 2020

More than 130 stakeholders from across the North East will come together on Friday 24th January at Newcastle University’s Great North Museum to discuss child poverty in the region, and how to tackle it.

Organised by the North East Child Poverty Commission, this regional conference will highlight that we have now reached 2020 – the year by which child poverty was once due to be ‘eradicated’ [1] – and yet some 4.1 million children across the country, including over 209,000 in the North East, are still growing up poor.

With the title ‘Child Poverty 2020: Still Here and Rising’, the conference will consider not only why the 2020 target has been so badly missed and the impact of this on the more than 35 per cent of children living in poverty in our region, but – crucially – what action should now be taken to address existing levels of child poverty and to stop it rising even further, as currently predicted [2].

High profile keynote speakers joining the event will be:

  • Alison Garnham - Chief Executive of the leading national charity, the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)
  • Rt Revd Paul Butler – Bishop of Durham and Patron of the North East Child Poverty Commission
  • Anna Turley – Labour and Co-operative MP for Redcar from 2015-19, and former Labour Government Special Adviser on Child Poverty and Social Exclusion

And panellists at the conference include Prof. Greta Defeyter (Director, of Northumbria University’s Healthy Living Lab and recently named one of The Big Issue’s ‘Top 100 Change Makers for 2020’), Beth Farhat (Regional Secretary, Northern TUC), Tracey Herrington (Manager, Thrive Teesside), Satty Rai (Northern Housing Consortium), Prof. Liz Todd (Director of Newcastle University’s Institute for Social Science) and Alice Wiseman (Director of Public Health, Gateshead).

Importantly, the conference will also hear the views of young people from the region on this issue, facilitated by the charities Children North East, Youth Focus: North East and Youth Homeless North East.

Independent Chair of the North East Child Poverty Commission, Jane Streather, said:

‘We’ve now reached 2020 – the year by which child poverty was once due to be history – and yet more than one in three children in our region are still growing up poor. 

‘This is completely unacceptable in one of the largest economies in the world, and we want this conference to help put child poverty and how we tackle it back on the local, regional and national political agenda.

‘We know that child poverty can be tackled in this country because we have done so before, and we can – and must – choose to do so again. But that requires political will and joined-up thinking at all levels of government, and we will be using this event to continue to press for child poverty to be addressed with the urgency and priority it requires.’

Tracy Shildrick, Professor of Inequalities at Newcastle University and Commission member, said:

‘We are proud to host the North East Child Poverty Commission at Newcastle University, as part of the University’s wider commitment to social justice and working in partnership with organisations across the region to support this.

‘This conference will play a really important part in helping to inform the Commission’s future work and will give us a powerful platform from which to continue to push for change.’

The North East Child Poverty Commission is a network of public, private and third sector organisations dedicated to building support for actions that improve the lives of children and young people living in poverty in the region. Since 2019, it has been hosted by – but is independent of – Newcastle University.

Delegates attending the conference on 24th January represent a wide range of sectors and organisations from right across the region, including community groups, local authorities and combined authorities, charities, children’s and youth organisations, social workers, universities and education, trade unions, cultural organisations, the NHS, business, housing bodies, faith groups and politicians.

The event will be formally opened by Newcastle University’s Dean of Engagement and Place, Prof. Jane Robinson, and it is taking place with the support of the University’s Institute for Social Science.

[1] In March 1999, the then Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged that: ‘our historic aim will be for ours to be the first generation to end child poverty forever, and it will take a generation. It is a twenty-year mission, but I believe it can be done.’ The subsequent stated aim of the then Labour Government was to halve child poverty by 2010/11, on the way to ‘eradicating’ it by 2020. This 2020 target was enshrined in law via the Child Poverty Act 2010, but this legislation was largely abolished by the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, including the targets to reduce poverty and the measure of poverty based on family income.

 [2] In November 2017, the Institute for Fiscal Studies forecast that the number of children living in poverty across the UK would rise to 5.2million – or 37% of all children – by 2021/22, commenting: ‘across all regions, relative child poverty is projected to increase markedly. The smallest increases are in the south, but even there relative child poverty is projected to rise by at least 4ppts. The northern regions, the Midlands, Wales and Northern Ireland are projected to see increases of at least 8ppts. Relative child poverty in 2019/21 is higher than pre-recession in every region.’

Employers

Work has to be a better route out of poverty. Most poor children have a working parent.

Find out what you can do

Schools

Poverty leads to poor attainment.  Poor attainment leads to poverty.

Find out what you can do

Local Authorities

Councils have a duty to address child poverty through their services, jobs and contracts.

Find out what you can do

people icon

Everyone

Everyone can help to tackle child poverty. Every contribution matters.

Find out what you can do