The levels of child poverty in Bradford are unacceptably high, with almost 40,000 (31.8%) of the district’s children and young people living in relative poverty as defined by Government.
The purpose of the Bradford District Child Poverty Strategy is to provide a framework within which all services in the district can work together to meet agreed outcomes associated with reducing the effects of child poverty.
Our vision is to ensure that all services of the Council and of local partners are working collectively to do everything possible to reduce child poverty, mitigate its effects and ensure that today’s children don’t become tomorrow’s poor adults.
Childhood experience lays the foundations for later life. Growing up in poverty can damage physical, cognitive, social and emotional development and can affect what is achieved in adult life. While some children who grow up in low income households will go on to achieve their full potential, many others will not. Tackling child poverty will help to improve children’s lives today, and it will enhance their life chances enabling them to make the most of their talents, achieve their full potential in life and pass on the benefits to their own children.
Child poverty means growing up in a low income household. When children and families experience poverty and deprivation they have a standard of living that is well below average and which most people would consider unacceptable in Britain today. Tackling income poverty and material deprivation is a central aspect of promoting fairness and equal opportunity.
Research evidence shows that low income and material deprivation are at the core of a complex cycle of interaction between material resources, environmental factors and family circumstances that harm children’s healthy development and prevents children in poor families enjoying and achieving in childhood. According to National research, poverty and high levels of deprivation are linked to adverse outcomes across a range of areas including health and education. Whilst ‘child poverty’ is generally taken to mean growing up in a low income household, there are many views that it also describes the condition in which children live in families where parents are not able to provide the support and care that will promote healthy child development.
Children living in areas of high deprivation are: more likely to die in infancy or childhood; more likely to be injured at home or on the roads; more likely to be subject to safeguarding/child protection measures; less likely to be breastfed; more likely to be obese; more likely to have problems with oral health; and more likely to die younger as adults.
At all educational milestones, children and young people who are eligible for free school meals and/or living in areas of high deprivation are less likely to achieve expected thresholds or targets, and are more likely to be among the lowest achieving pupils in their cohort. This then translates into lower numbers of young people eligible for free school meals at age 15 achieving full level 2 or 3 qualifications at age 19, and higher not in education or training (NEET) rates in areas of high deprivation.
Before the Child Poverty Act became law in 2010, Bradford Council had already established a commitment to tackle child poverty through the Child Poverty Commission (Bradford Child Poverty Scrutiny report September 2009). It concluded that:
“It is imperative….that a district strategy is developed and adopted at the highest level to knit together the work of multiple agencies and partners.”
The Act created a duty for the Council to undertake an assessment of child poverty in the district and to produce a strategy by engaging all relevant partners. The emphasis in this strategy, that ending child poverty is everybody’s business, reflects the commitment of the Council and the local strategic partnership to take collective action acknowledging that no single agency can act alone to make an impact.
Tackling the causes of child poverty and mitigating its effects is not new and a wide range of existing services are working hard doing just that. In the Bradford district we have taken steps to develop this strategy through partnership involvement at every stage so that services are planned, delivered and all clearly understand the contribution they make to the identified priorities of the Strategy.
One in four children across the District live in poverty. Our first child poverty strategy (2011-14) established a Child Poverty Board to lead the work on child poverty across the District. A second child poverty strategy has been developed to guide the work on child poverty from 2014-17. A copy of this strategy is available on this page.
The strategy gives a brief description of the size and spread of child poverty across the District and says a little about the work undertaken so far. The strategy proposes three priorities and suggests some important issues that need to be addressed.