'Nearly half of Luton children in poverty' says council report

Two new boards are being set up by Luton Borough Council as part of its push to eliminate poverty in the town by 2040.

Nearly half of the children in the borough are growing up in poverty, according to a report to the council’s executive.

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This is despite work by the Luton Investment Framework (LIF) to attract more funding into the town, said the report.

An inclusive economy board will work alongside the council’s health and wellbeing board, while a Luton 2040 board will be developed from the LIF board.

“Executive members will be aware our number one priority for the borough council, which is that nobody will live in poverty in Luton by 2040,” said Labour Lewsey councillor and council leader Hazel Simmons.

“Building on the success of the LIF, the local authority has set a simple yet compelling vision for the town.

“Behind this target lies a myriad of complex and challenging issues that cannot be addressed by the council alone.

“The report sets out a framework for working together with key partners and our diverse local communities to achieve our objective, which is very important to the people of Luton.

“We want the town to be a place where poverty has ceased to be an issue and our residents are able to thrive.

“The health and wellbeing board will be joined by a newly-created inclusive economy board.

“Both bodies will draw on the knowledge and experience of the council and its partners to work collaboratively to address the issues in their respective roles,” added councillor Simmons, who chairs the executive.

“These are improving health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities, as well as boosting skills, offering better access to employment and the promotion of local wealth building.

“Population wellbeing and inclusive economy strategies are currently being developed to guide the work of both of these boards.

“Within the council itself, a Luton 2040 board, developed from the LIF board, will be established to coordinate our response and contribution to Luton 2040.

“This board will be supported by a Luton 2040 team within the chief executive’s department.

“The process is currently underway to establish this new team on a permanent basis, and the funding for it has been requested through a growth item.”

The Luton 2040 vision “is at the heart of the council’s response to the recommendations of the inclusive growth commission”, explained the report to the executive committee.

“It seeks to ensure that poverty is eliminated in Luton over the next 20 years, improving life chances, health, economic prosperity and social outcomes.

“Despite significant investment coming to the town as a result of our LIF, nearly half of children in the borough are growing up in poverty.

“Last year’s peer review concluded that the council has too many priorities and targets.

“The local authority is now focusing on a single ambitious long-term vision instead.

“The Luton 2040 vision will replace our LIF and build on it,” added the report.

“Some of the work which will contribute to the Luton 2040 ambitions is already underway, such as town centre remodelling, tackling health inequalities and developing strong communities.”

The executive agreed to adopt the council’s emerging vision for Luton 2040.