The new chief executive of Luton Council has made eradicating child poverty in the town one of his key aims.
It comes after data, published by the End Child Poverty coalition, highlighted the levels of child poverty across Britain, with Luton being named 7th on the list.
The research from Loughborough University, estimated the numbers of children locked in poverty in each constituency, ward and local authority area across Britain, showing that child poverty is rising.
Luton-based children’s charity, Level Trust, aims to remove the barriers that poverty brings to a child’s education by working in partnership with schools and families to ensure that every child has what they need to do their best at school. The charity is a member of the End Poverty coalition and wants more to be done to stop the problem.
CEO Jane Malcolm said: “We know through our work how devastating poverty can be for children. It means that a child might not have the uniform and equipment they need for school.
“They’re unlikely to be able to do fun things in the school holidays and they are more likely to suffer with mental health problems and low self-esteem. They can feel embarrassed about making friends because they feel different and they can have little hope for the future.
“The damage poverty can cause is heart breaking – but it doesn’t have to be like this. That’s why we are joining the call to end child poverty in Luton and across the UK.”
End Child Poverty is calling for Government to set out an ambitious and credible child poverty-reduction strategy. The strategy includes restoring the link between benefits and inflation, ending the two-child limit on child allowances in tax credits and investing in children’s services such as mental health, education, childcare and social care.
Robin Porter, Chief Executive of Luton Council, said: “Recent reports showing levels of poverty and inequality in the UK are a stark reminder of the scale of the task, not just for Luton but the country as a whole. The level of child poverty in some of Luton’s wards is unacceptable which is why dealing with it is one of the most critical issues facing the council and our communities.
“Our ambitious plans to provide an additional 15,000 local jobs for local people through airport expansion and the increasing number of regeneration projects flourishing in the town are vital.
“In conjunction with this unprecedented development, last January we launched our Inclusive Growth Commission to gather people’s views as to how we can make the exciting changes taking place in the town have a genuine long-lasting impact on their lives. We have also begun a comprehensive range of strategies specifically targeting the children of the town to ensure they have a fair start in life, such as our wide-ranging early years language project and the Flying Start programme for under 5’s.
“I make it very clear, as I come into the role of Chief Executive, that my key aim is to eradicate child poverty. This is a long-term issue needing sustained action but I am absolutely determined to ensure that, as a council, we achieve this vital goal for the benefit of everyone in Luton.”