There’s been a definite – and very welcome - spike in the number of inquiries I’ve received from local child poverty leads over the last few weeks. Although your work to tackle child poverty locally is relentless, it seems that many leads are gearing up to draft their second Local Child Poverty Action Reports.
Though the Scottish Government and Poverty and Inequality Commission have recently highlighted their hopes and expectations for year 2 LCPARs, I thought it might be useful to remind everyone of the information and resources that are on offer from the Improvement Service (IS) and other national organisations such as NHS Health Scotland, the Scottish Government, the Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit (SPIRU), Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland (CPAG) and the Poverty Alliance to support local action to tackle child poverty.
This is not an exhaustive list and we would really welcome your thoughts and feedback on what would be most useful in future.
The IS website
A good starting point for those new to the child poverty agenda is the IS website. The website include links to key documents such as the relevant legislation, guidance, the Scottish Government’s child poverty data dashboard, the Commission’s report and a range of other tools.
There’s also a handy list of published Local Child Poverty Action Reports here – if the link to yours is missing, send me on the details and I’ll ensure it’s included (email@example.com).
The Knowledge Hub (KHub)
The Local Child Poverty Action Report Group on the Knowledge Hub has 235 members and is a great place to make contact with others working to tackle child poverty at local and national level. It provides a place to ask questions and share good practice, access research on tackling child poverty and view an up to take contact list of local leads. A recent blog published on the KHub also highlights the initiatives that local child poverty leads across Scotland think are working in their area to tackle child poverty.
I’ll be revamping the KHub over the coming months so look out for a relaunch and publication of a ‘walkthrough’ film that will help you get the most out of it. It would be great if you could share your thoughts about the kind of information you’d like to see on the KHub in future via this forum. Please just let me know if you have any technical difficulties – using the KHub is a learning curve for everyone!
Feedback on local child poverty action reports
Over the past few months I’ve provided ‘critical friend’ feedback on eighteen year one local child poverty action reports. This is usually done via a face to face meeting or over the phone and supported by some written notes highlighting areas for discussion and interesting practice from across Scotland. Although I’m off on maternity leave from the middle of March, I’ll do my best to provide feedback and respond to any requests received in the next few weeks.
When I’m drafting any feedback, I draw on the Feedback Framework which the national partners developed about a year ago. The framework draws on the legislation and guidance to draw out what the key characteristics of a strong LCPAR might be. Although it seems a bit bureaucratic and dry at first, it can be an effective tool for highlighting strengths and areas for improvement in local action to tackle child poverty.
National partners are working with several areas across Scotland to provide more ‘hands on support’ with action to tackle child poverty. This includes:
- Input to local planning meetings
- Support to facilitate meetings, workshops and self-assessments
Our capacity is limited but if you think you would benefit from this kind of support please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
In facilitating local or regional sessions, we often draw upon the Outcome Based Planning Tool for Child Poverty. This will be further developed by NHS Health Scotland this year but it provides a great starting point for discussions around LCPAR development. Essentially the tool allows you to map current action local against the three key drivers of poverty (income from employment, income from social security and the cost of living), prompting discussions about what the gaps and priorities for future action might be – as well as opportunities for services and partners to work together towards shared objectives. If you would like to discuss the tool or how to use it please contact Kerry McKenzie (firstname.lastname@example.org ).
Sharing Good Practice
Probably the most important aspect of the national partners’ role is supporting the sharing and implementation of good practice to tackle child poverty. Ongoing and upcoming opportunities include:
- The Transport Action Learning Set: John McKendrick from SPIRU is leading on this action learning set which has met twice to date. It brings together those working locally on child poverty and transport policy to identify shared challenges and opportunities. Learning will be shared as it emerges. You can learn more here.
- Employment, Employability and Child Poverty: The Improvement Service have hosted a roundtable meeting and a networking event to share good practice on employment, employability and childcare. Timed to coincide with the launch of the Parental Employability Support Fund, the events provided an opportunity to share existing practice and opportunities to do more to ensure the benefits of employability service and economic development more widely reach families with children. You can read a briefing paper (including examples of approaches form across Scotland here). A report of the event – including key action and recommendations - will be available shortly.
- Housing, planning and child poverty: The Improvement Service will be hosting a roundtable meeting to kick off discussion between local and national child poverty, housing and planning leads in Livingston on 13th February (10am – 12:30pm). The objective of the meeting is to identify areas for actions relating to housing and planning that might impact on levels of child poverty. Please let me know if you’d like to attend. You can read a blog written by ALACHO Policy Manager Tony Cain on the subject here.
There are likely to be more thematic events and briefings in the coming year, with popular suggestions including public bodies as anchor institutions, procurement and whole systems approaches to tackling child poverty. Let us know what you need.
- Cost barriers of school: NHS Health Scotland supports the Facing up to Child Poverty in Schools Practice Network, a forum for local authority and partners representatives to collaborate and share learning on tackling cost barriers of school. Please get in touch with Julie Arnot (email@example.com) for more information, including details of local representatives.
- Financial inclusion: NHS Health Scotland is hosting a meeting on 25 March for NHS colleagues who have responsibility for developing or enhancing the development of financial inclusion pathways between midwifery & health visiting services and money/welfare rights services. For more information, contact Julie McLellan (firstname.lastname@example.org )
- Webinars: The Improvement Service has hosted several webinars (online presentations) in the last year to highlight interesting practice from across Scotland. These can still be viewed online and include:
- An overview of the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act and the local reporting duty (intended for elected members but a good place to get an overview of the nature of the duty)
- Child Poverty and the Scottish Welfare Fund
- Child Poverty and the delivery of devolved benefits – including Best Start Grant
- Child Poverty and targeted advice and information – (including Edinburgh’s
- Child Poverty, the Fairer Scotland Duty and Equality Impact Assessments
Newsflash! The JRF’s Emma Congreve and Jim McCormick will be hosting a webinar for the Improvement Service on Tuesday 4th February. It will consider use of evidence on poverty and child poverty and the role of local poverty Commissions. To learn more and sign up, click here.
- Good Practice Directory: Back in 2018, NHS Health Scotland complied examples of action to tackle child poverty from across Scotland. This is still available online and makes for interesting reading. SPIRU will now be taking on the mantle of developing the directory further over the coming year so watch this space. SPIRU are keen to hear about examples of effective practice, and also what format would be most useful for the Directory; so please contact them about either of these issues via J.McKendrick@gcu.ac.uk or Stephen.Sinclair@gcu.ac.uk
- The National Partners have also done a lot of work to draw out the practice described in year 1 LCPARs to get an insight of what was happening in relation to certain policy themes (such as income maximisation, employability, transport, childcare etc). If there’s an area of policy you’d like to learn more about – in terms of the approach being taken in other areas – please let us know.
Networking Opportunities: We’re really keen to provide opportunities for those working on child poverty locally to build relationship and their share experiences and good practice. In the coming year we will:
- Continue to facilitate the informal online Remote, Rural, and Island Child Poverty Network. The network meets remotely every few months to share challenges and achievement. The next meeting is yet to be scheduled but is likely to be in early March. If you’re interested in joining just let me know.
- Host another ‘summit’ on Local Action to Tackle Child Poverty in autumn 2020. The theme and content of the event is yet to be decided so please let us know what would be of most use to you.
Information and Data
Many local areas are wrestling with how they can best understand local need and establish that they are making progress towards tackling child poverty.Work underway that might be of interest include:
The Local Child Poverty Dashboard
Created by Scottish Government analysts this online resource draws together a selection of indicators available at local authority level. These indicators do not measure child poverty directly in the same way as the indicators used for the national targets, but they can be used to understand the local context and how that might be changing. The indicators chosen also provide some evidence on drivers of child poverty, along with information on the groups of people that are more at risk of experiencing child poverty.
The Child Poverty Information Working Group
SPIRU and the Scottish Government have established this group which will meet for the first time on Tuesday 4th February. The remit of the group is to collaborate on identifying effective approaches to using existing evidence and information resources for needs-assessment, planning, monitoring and evaluation of local programmes to reduce child poverty. We’ll be reporting back – but if you’d like to be involved then get in touch with Elizabeth Fraser. (Elizabeth.Fraser@gov.scot ) Elizabeth is also keen to hear from anyone who has used the dashboard.
Inverclyde Data Group
NHS Health Scotland and NHS NSS Local Intelligence Support Team are testing out a public health needs assessment approach with colleagues in Inverclyde. The purpose is to explore how local data might be accessed and utilised to plan, develop and deliver local actions to tackle child poverty. Learning from this initiative will be shared in due course. For more information, contact Megan Watson (email@example.com )
Briefing papers on child poverty for the priority groups
NHS Health Scotland has been working with local and national partners to produce briefing papers on the priority groups affected by child poverty. Each one aims to describe the priority groups, the challenges they face and what might be done to reduce child poverty for these families. The first briefing, on child poverty in families with three or more children,was published in January 2020. A second briefing on child poverty in lone parent families, will be published in Spring 2020, while a third, on child poverty in families where someone has a disability, will be published soon after that. If you would like more information, please get in touch with Martin (firstname.lastname@example.org ).
Supporting Involvement of those with Lived Experience
Through its Get Heard Scotland initiative, the Poverty Alliance has some capacity to support several local areas in their efforts to meaningfully engage people with lived experience of poverty in the LCPAR process. For more information on the support available contact Robin Tennant.email@example.com
Influencing and Advocacy
Through all our contact with local leads via events, surveys and informal chats we’re in a good position to help identify some of the difficulties that come up again and again across the country. From data sharing difficulties to funding arrangements, national partners can sometimes help draw attention to the difficulties that create barriers for you at local level nationally – whether that’s via COSLA, the Scottish Government, SOLACE or others. So please don’t hesitate to get in touch to let us know what’s bothering you!
It’s been a real pleasure working with you all and I hope to speak to most of you before I head off on mat leave in mid-March. If I don’t, have a great year and keep up the incredible work.