Housing leaders have set out proposals to tackle child poverty by removing barriers to affordable child care, delays in key benefits and easing the programme of benefit sanctions for the hardest-hit families.
Orbit, the 39,000-home housing association, today published ‘Creating Chances for Future Generations’, a paper calling for sector-wide commitment to move the growing number of children out of poverty.
Recent figures by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) show 3.9m children were living in ‘relative poverty’ in 2014-15, an increase of 200,000 on the previous year.
Key housing, charity and social leaders discussed how by working together they could play a key role in the Government agenda on Life Chances, at a roundtable hosted by Orbit.
Today’s publication also calls for a review of welfare policy to protect children. This includes a rethink of the benefits sanctions programme impacting on people out of work and reducing the delays of key benefit payments, such as the 42 day wait for Universal Credit payments.
Paul Tennant, chief executive of Orbit and ambassador of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), said: “Housing Associations already have a positive impact on a significant number of children’s lives. Orbit’s statistics indicate that 25% of children in our communities are growing up in poverty.
We need to identify practical steps to see what more we can do to help the hardest hit. These can be as small as making sure families have access to white goods and furnishings, as well as influencing policy to alleviate the pressure of delays in welfare payments.”
Speaking at the discussion, Citizens Advice recorded that at its peak, payday loans were attracting over 2,000 people per month, with many of those people struggling to make repayments. Despite greater regulation, payday loans still remain a source of dependency for many.
The publication also highlights the importance of providing money and budgeting advice, coupled with the need to find alternative short-term credit, as well as accessing affordable childcare to help people gain employment.
As long-term sustainable businesses, Housing Associations have identified the value they deliver through employment and financial advice programmes to give people the skills they need to lift them out of poverty. This support also has tangible business benefits showed through research from Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust (HACT), showing a 15-30% cost reduction in repairs if customers are in work.
Roundtable attendees included Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), Citizens Advice, the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), HACT, Riverside, Yarlington Housing Association, Northwards Housing and other housing providers.
Visit orbit.org.uk to find out more about Orbit’s campaign and to read the report in full.