Aspire and Succeed share their views with the commission

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Matthew Reed, Chair of the Birmingham Child Poverty Commission,  met with young people from Aspire and Succeed, based in Lozells to hear their views and thoughts on how they can help the commission with ideas on how to  reduce child poverty in the city.

Around 15 young people between the ages of 17 to 18 years old took part in a focused discussion around two case studies based on, 15 year old Kam and 8 year old Ben whose lives are blighted by poverty. A number of very insightful and passionate points were raised and some of the young people shared their own experiences about the barriers that prevented them and their families accessing opportunities to improve their quality of life.

Some of the common themes and solutions identified by the group were:

  • Housing issues.Kam case study
  • Money management advice and financial support.
  • Raise the living wage.
  • Young people need more access to a range of career opportunities.
  • Provide training for family members out of work by local organisations and businesses.
  • Local communities to help and encourage family members to speak English to increase opportunities and access to services.
  • Provide positive mentoring for young people by school teachers, other family members and local groups

What needs to happen for jobs in this area?

  • Pathway for young people to gain apprenticeship. Training opportunities are not always fit for purpose. Historically there was industry, now there isn’t much. Need to raise awareness of how to go for jobs and stimulate ambition.
  • Area has an unfair negative reputation which employers look at as a reason not to employ us. Stigmatised by our postcode.
  • Better housing for families – stop overcrowding.
  • Training opportunities weren’t considered fit for purpose, as businesses in the area were industrial now they have changed to services.

What could schools do differently?

  • After school clubs are need to help with homework.
  • Providing a free school uniform, stationery.
  • Teachers need to be more encouraging and positive toward all children not just the ‘clever’ ones. “It’s not good for your confidence to be told that you won’t get anywhere or and will get bad exam results”.
  • Expelled pupils are moved to a centre at the other side of the city referred to as journey men, moving from one school to another. This prevents them from building lasting friendships and damages their self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • Some young children had their time at school disrupted as they often became translators for family members. Translating ‘adult issues’ causing emotional and stressed.

What shouldn’t be missed… when the group were asked by Matthew, what should be including in the commission recommendations? They responded by saying;

  • Different ways to  earn good money, it creates opportunity to do things, buy the things needed and pay the bills.
  • Something needs to be done to get rid of postcode prejudice and the assumptions made about coming from a ‘trouble’ area.
  • Give young people contacts to access good job opportunities.
  • The commission needs to look at social housing issues as they are impacting families and;
  • A lack of affordable accessible centres and sporting facilitates make it difficult for young people to enjoy physical activities to get healthy and time away from other pressures.
  • All children have dreams to do well in life – no matter what your background or the area you come from.

Anyone who wants to share their stories or ideas with the commission can contact: childpovertycommission@birmingham.gov.uk

People are also encouraged to contact and follow the commission on Twitter using its@FairBrum handle and the hashtag #brumchildpoverty.

The commission aims to publish its report, including recommendations to tackle poverty in Birmingham, early next year.

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Jobcentre Plus to be trialled in Birmingham schools

Headlined by Children and Young People Now government has announced that Birmingham will be trialling Jobcentre Plus advisers in schools by the end of the month, before extending its plans to nine other pathfinder areas.

This initiative is aimed at supporting young people at risk of becoming NEET (not in employment, education or training), or who are otherwise disadvantaged in the labour market.

In a letter written by Conservative peer Baroness Evans reveals that the initiative, which she said will aim to deliver “independent, high-quality and impartial careers advice”, is not intended to be universally available to all students.

Instead it will be focused on helping young people deemed to be at risk of dropping out of education and not getting a job.

“The support will help facilitate an effective transition from schools to work, training or further study and will focus on three key areas: advising on routes into traineeships and apprenticeships; highlighting the importance of work experience using Jobcentre Plus’s extensive network of employers; and providing realistic advice on the local labour market.”

So, how will this plan affect the young people of our city and reduce the risk of them falling into poverty?

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Details in the Child Poverty Needs Assessment for Birmingham FINAL – Sept 2015 produced for Birmingham Child Poverty Commission show that Long-term worklessness and Low earnings are one of the key drivers affecting young people in Birmingham.

The needs assessment summarises findings of a 2014 government report, “An evidence review of the drivers of child poverty for families in poverty now and for poor children growing up to be poor adults” including that of Educational Attainment.

“A child’s educational achievement will affect their later labour market prospects and so the risk of future poverty. A pupil’s family background has an important influence on their educational attainment, but the quality of school a child attends also makes a significant difference to their educational attainment, particularly for educationally disadvantaged children. There is robust evidence that high quality formal pre-school education can help to narrow the attainment gaps between children from different family backgrounds that emerge in children’s first years.”

Further breakdown can be found in the Child Poverty Needs Assessment 2015 by Key Stage, gender, ethnicity and geography. Can this announcement make difference to our young people?

Only time will tell before we see a difference, but what kind of difference it could make to those who receive the support and those that don’t.

Share your thoughts and views on this announcement.

COMMISSION WANTS TO HEAR EXPERIENCE ON POVERTY

IMAG0923.1Families are being urged to join the fight against child poverty as a series of public consultation events organised by the Birmingham Child Poverty Commission picks up pace.  On the back of new Office for National Statistics figures which reveal 39.6 per cent of Birmingham’s neighbourhoods were among the most deprived 10% nationally (1), commissioners will on Tuesday visit a local primary school to talk with children about their lives and experiences.

The visit to Future First Independent School in Hockley follows a bus tour of local organisations on Friday including the Amirah Foundation, which supports homeless and vulnerable women and children, the Oasis Academy Foundry Primary School in Winson Green and St Boniface Church in Quinton, which also supports vulnerable families.

The commission, chaired by Matthew Reed, chief executive of national charity The Children’s Society, and established by Birmingham City Council, is looking at ways to tackle child poverty in Birmingham and ensure all children have access to opportunities in life. Its public consultation programme revolves around visits to family fun days and events that community-based organisations are already holding, as well as specially-arranged visits for commissioners.

Representatives from the commission spend time at the events listening and recording the views of those that are willing to share their experiences. The commission is calling on parents and children to share their experiences of how they have been affected by poverty and ideas they may have around tackling some of the root causes.

Ahead of the launch of its consultation programme, the commission published a Child Poverty Needs Assessment – based on previous ONS figures – which revealed that almost half of all Birmingham children lived in England’s poorest areas.

The Child Poverty Needs Assessment brings together statistics highlighting the scale of the challenge and some of the reasons why children grow up in poverty. It reveals that 37% of children in Birmingham live in poverty after housing costs, while poverty levels are above the national average in more than three-quarters of city council wards. In Sparkbrook and Nechells nearly half of all children live in poverty. (2)

The commission includes representatives from the public, private and voluntary sectors, including the University of Birmingham and Barnardo’s, and is focusing upon five themes: the economy/unemployment, in work poverty, education, health and transport.
It is gathering the views of representatives from all of those sectors including people who work with children, health experts, politicians, business representatives, faith groups and academics. But above all, it wants to hear from families and young people.

Matthew Reed, Chairman of the Birmingham Child Poverty Commission and Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:

“It is vital that we hear about experiences of poverty from the children and families affected and the community groups and organisations which work with them.

“These events help us to identify both measures which can make a difference in the short-term and changes which will tackle some of the fundamental causes of child poverty in the future.”

Anyone who wants to share their stories or ideas with the commission can contact childpovertycommission@birmingham.gov.uk
People are also encouraged to contact and follow the commission on Twitter using its @FairBrum handle and the hashtag #brumchildpoverty.
The commission aims to publish its report, including recommendations to tackle poverty in Birmingham, early next year.

ENDS

Notes to Editors
Media opportunity. You are invited to a photo call and opportunity to speak to some of the young people involved in the research on Tuesday 13th October 2015 at 2pm-3.30pm, Future First Independent School, Hockley Port Moorings, All Saints Street, Hockley, Birmingham, B18 7RL. To confirm your attendance, contact either Natasha Bhandal, Communications Manager at Birmingham City Council on 0121 303 8727 or natasha.bhandal@birmingham.gov.uk  or Kris Kowalewski on 0121 303 3621 kris.kowalewski@birmingham.gov.uk
(1) See https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/english-indices-of-deprivation-2015
(2) Figures were calculated using data from the Index of Multiple Deprivation, census and Office for National Statistics population estimates. Of the 639 Lower Layer Super Output Areas (LSOAs) in Birmingham, 245 are in the top 10 per cent most deprived nationally. Of the 280,023 children in Birmingham, 136,848 live in these 245 Local Super Output Areas – 49 per cent. LSOAs are small geographic divisions with a population of at least 1,000 which are used to measure indices of deprivation – there is an LSOA for every postcode.
The Children’s Society is a national charity that runs local services, helping children and young people when they are at their most vulnerable, and have nowhere left to turn. We also campaign for changes to laws affecting children and young people, to stop the mistakes of the past being repeated in the future. Our supporters around the country fund our services and join our campaigns to show children and young people they are on their side.

Progress on the Living Wage in Birmingham

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The campaign for a Living Wage for workers across the country has been ongoing now for many years. The living wage is increasingly seen as one of the solutions for in-work poverty.  It is based on the amount an individual needs to earn to cover the basic costs of living – estimated to be significantly above current levels for the minimum wage.  Over the past few years the idea has  gained a great deal of traction from across the political spectrum, having been promoted nationally by the Living Wage Foundation.  The current living wage is estimated to be £7.85 an hour for people outside of London, and £9.15 for those living in London.  (For more information on the calculation click here).

The idea of Living Wage has returned to the headlines recently with the Chancellor’s announcement in the recent budget that he would be introducing a National Living Wage of £7.20 and hour for those over 25 from next April.  This will rise to £9.00 by 2020.  While announcement has received mixed reviews from employers, and has gained some cautious welcomes by charitable organisations, although there is some concern that the figures are just higher minimum wages rather than actually at the level of a living wage.

In Birmingham, the City Council has been paying the nationally recognised living wage for sometime now, having first adopted Living Wage for Council employees back in 2012, with the City Council receiving a nomination for the Living Wage Champion Awards 2014.

But what does the living wage look like across the rest of the city?

Earlier this year and before the Chancellor’s announcement,  the Centre for Research in Social Policy  – the body who calculate the living wage outside of London – published a report looking into the Living Wage in Birmingham.  This report –Making ends meet in Birmingham: assessing the impact of the living wage and welfare reform –  has some interesting findings, including:

  • Household incomes reached a peak in 2009 and earnings have not returned to this level yet.
  • Birmingham actually has a smaller proportion of workers below the living wage than nationally
  • Since the adoption of the living wage by Birmingham City Council, the proportion of public sector workers below this level has fallen dramatically to only 2% of workers, compared to 8% nationally.
  • There is a stark contrast between public and private sector workers within the city: 27 %of private sector workers were paid less than the living wage in 2013 compared to 2 % in the public sector.
  • The city has witnessed significant increases in the proportion of workers who are self-employed since 2009: 13% of all those aged 16-64 working in Birmingham in early 2014 were self-employed.

The full report contains more interesting findings – which the Child Poverty Commission will use to in their work.  But what is clear is that the introduction of the living wage has clearly done much to reduce low pay in the public sector, but low pay within the private sector remains a challenge for Birmingham.

Full report here

 

Almost half all Birmingham children live in England’s poorest areas, commission report shows

Families are being urged to join the fight against child poverty in Birmingham as a report today revealed that nearly haChild Poverty After Housing Costslf of all under-18s in the city live in the country’s poorest areas.

A Child Poverty Needs Assessment published by the new Birmingham Child Poverty Commission shows that 49 per cent of children in the city – nearly 137,000 – live in England’s top 10 per cent most deprived areas.

The commission, chaired by Matthew Reed, chief executive of national charity The Children’s Society, and established by Birmingham City Council, has now begun its work looking at ways to tackle child poverty in Birmingham.

It has published the report as it prepares to begin public consultation – and is calling on parents and children to share their experiences of how they have been affected by poverty and ideas they may have around tackling some of the root causes.

The Child Poverty Needs Assessment brings together statistics highlighting the scale of the challenge and some of the reasons why children grow up in poverty.

It reveals 37% of children in Birmingham live in poverty after housing costs, while poverty levels are above the national average in more than three-quarters of city council wards. In Sparkbrook and Nechells nearly half of all children live in poverty.

The report also reveals that more than 8,000 children in Birmingham live in the top one per cent most deprived areas in England and Wales.

Matthew Reed, chairman of the commission and The Children’s Society Chief Executive, said: “Living in poverty can often have a severe impact on a child’s happiness and future.

“Any child living in poverty is one too many, and it is simply unacceptable that here in Birmingham there are thousands of children in this situation.

“Poverty is caused by often deep-rooted problems and tackling them will not be easy, but we are determined as a commission to come up with some practical solutions which will begin to address these issues.

“We want to put the voices of children and their families at the heart of our work because only by listening carefully to the challenges they face can we find the right answers.”

Mr Reed added that new policies announced by the Government in this month’s budget, including restricting child tax credits to two children per family and lowering the benefit cap, heightened the need for urgent action.

“These changes will have a real impact upon the millions of children in this country living in poverty, including those in Birmingham,” he said. “But as a commission we are as determined as ever to bring forward proposals which can help to make a positive difference to their lives and those of their families.”

Commissioners have agreed to focus upon five themes in their meetings and consultation: the economy/unemployment, in work poverty, education, health, transport.

The commission includes representatives from the public, private and voluntary sectors, including the University of Birmingham and Barnardo’s. (2)

It will gather the views of representatives from all of those sectors including people who work with children, health experts, politicians, business representatives, faith groups and academics. But above all, it wants to hear from families and young people.

Anyone who wants to share their stories or ideas with the commission can contact Suwinder Bains at Birmingham City Council at childpovertycommission@birmingham.gov.uk

People also encouraged to contact and follow the commission on Twitter using its @FairBrum handle and the hashtag #brumchildpoverty.You can also visit its website at brumchildpoverty.wordpress.com

A series of consultation events, including focus groups, are currently being organised by the commission for the coming months and will be publicised in due course.

The commission aims to publish its report, including recommendations to tackle poverty in Birmingham, early next year.

Birmingham’s Child Poverty Commission

20301542751_c971e78547_zBirmingham’s Child Poverty Commission was launched in mid 2015.

The commission’s work is being driven by statistics that show child poverty in Birmingham is at unacceptable levels where a third of children are living in poverty, with some parts of the city having over 46 per cent of children in poor households*.

It will be made up of leaders in all spheres of influence including policy makers, politicians and practitioners – who will collectively provide expertise, knowledge and experience to help formulate proposals for a citywide approach. The commission is also being opened up to cross-party participation.

The cross-partner commission involves Birmingham City Council, the Children’s Society and the University of Birmingham as well as other agencies who all have a part to play in preventing children growing up in poverty.

The core focus of the commission is to implement actions rather than produce theoretical strategies without any goal. The commission aims to set out a number of actions that will address child poverty in a Birmingham context and help to reduce it.

Councillor James McKay, Cabinet Member for Social Cohesion, Equalities and Community Safety at Birmingham City Council, said: “No child growing up in Birmingham should have their childhood or future life chances scarred by living in poverty.

“Every young individual should have the opportunity to fulfil their potential and ambition and not let poverty be a barrier to their success.

“The City Council Leader’s Policy Statement makes a commitment to create a fairer city – tackling child poverty is one of the key priorities towards a fairer city and the child Poverty Commission is being set up to deliver on this by removing some of those barriers that impact on poverty and inequality.

“The commission recognises that some of the statistics relating to Birmingham are wholly unacceptable and aims to reduce the number of children, and families, currently having their future opportunities damaged by living in poverty.”

As well as asking professionals to give evidence, the commission wants to listen to the everyday experiences of children and families living in poverty and understand poverty from their perspective and bring to life the stories of children and families behind the hard statistics.

The commission also seeks to explore the circumstances that create poverty, understand the causes and identify any gaps in knowledge that hinder progress in reducing poverty.

Everyone should play their part to make child poverty unacceptable across the city. Anyone who lives or works in Birmingham and wants to share their views can contact Suwinder Bains at Suwinder.bains@birmingham.gov.uk.

The commission’s developments can also be followed on Twitter @fairbrum