Wednesday 11 March 2015

Sheffield City Council and partners are reaffirming their commitment to help tackle poverty in the city, with around one in every five people in Sheffield living in poverty, and almost a third of children under ten.

Sheffield’s new Tackling Poverty Strategy has been developed by a partnership led by the council and chaired by Sheffield Executive Board’s lead on poverty and inclusion. It sets the priorities, actions and targets up to 2018 and will be discussed at the council’s Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, 18 March.

Councillor Jackie Drayton, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “Poverty is hitting people hard in Sheffield and it is hitting them in many different ways: in rising bills, stagnating wages, through reductions to benefits and cuts to public services.

“What is deeply upsetting is that our city’s children are among those most affected.

“We know that those first few months and years of life are so important and we all want to give our children a great start in life. This is much harder when families are concentrating on making ends meet. Parents often act as the ‘shock absorbers’– often going without themselves, and we know that women are often particularly affected. We need to give them our support and do everything we can to make life easier for people who are struggling to get by.

“This strategy prioritises the needs of children and their families as well as supporting other households who are also facing hardship. Our vision is that all children and adults in Sheffield are able to afford to meet their fundamental needs.”

The council has a statutory duty to produce a child poverty strategy and undertake a child poverty needs assessment. In Sheffield the council and its partners are looking wider to focus on tackling poverty affecting all families and households, including those without children.

Factors outside of local control mean that child and all-age poverty is set to rise nationally over the next three to five years.

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health, said: “It is tragic that poverty is set to rise in Sheffield, as it is right across the country. The cuts to public spending, benefit changes and increased living costs are having a massive impact on many people’s lives.

“I am absolutely determined to do something about this as are my colleagues and partners across the city.

“We need to make real improvements to people’s lives and analysis shows that we need a balance between making things better for people who are living in poverty and tackling the root causes of it.

“We need to build on the progress already made. This includes our efforts to boost employment opportunities, which mean we now have the fourth highest proportion of teenagers in apprenticeships of any local authority in the country. We are also helping people to bring their energy bills down through our Big Sheffield Switch, which over 3,170 people have already signed up to this year. Sheffield Money is soon to launch, which will provide an affordable and ethical alternative to high-cost credit, and we recently announced new funding for food banks and to tackle food poverty.

“Factors outside our control locally mean that poverty is set to increase in Sheffield as it is right across the country. We therefore recognise that it won’t be possible to achieve everything we need to in the lifetime of this new strategy. However we are committed to shifting poverty and inequalities, and helping those in our city who are most in need.”

Reverend Peter Bradley, Dean of Sheffield Cathedral and Sheffield Executive Board’s lead on poverty and inclusion, said: “Citizens and children living in poverty in Sheffield face many daunting problems. I am very pleased that, through this strategy, the whole city will be working together to support Sheffielders in poverty, especially children. This strategy is a good and important start in what will be a long process to develop the necessary actions to reduce poverty and alleviate the challenges that many of our fellow citizens face every day.”

The poverty strategy includes an action plan which is a living document and will be built on with further actions as additional needs emerge.

Those involved in the development of Sheffield’s Tackling Poverty Strategy include:

• Fairness Commissioners
• The Clinical Commissioning Group
• Jobcentre Plus
• South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive
• South Yorkshire Police
• Youth Justice Service
• Sheffield Health & Social Care NHS Trust
• The Voluntary, Community & Faith Sector
• Sheffield Citizens Advice
• Sheffield Children’s Hospital
• Representatives from Early Years providers
• Representatives of social housing providers
• Chamber of Commerce
• South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service
• University of Sheffield
• City Wide Learning Body