Tuesday 24 March 2015

Senior leaders from across the public sector, NHS, private sector and universities have joined forces to renew their pledge to help some of the city’s poorest families.

Sheffield’s new Tackling Poverty Strategy has been developed by a partnership led by the council and chaired by the Sheffield Executive Board’s lead on poverty and inclusion. It sets the priorities, actions and targets up to 2018 and was given the go ahead at the council’s Cabinet this week.

Following the Cabinet’s approval, councillors and partner agencies, such as South Yorkshire Police, Youth Justice Service, Sheffield’s Clinical Commissioning Group, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority and JobcentrePlus, officially signed a pledge to continue their hard work at a special event at the Cathedral Archer Project, Campo Lane.

Councillor Jackie Drayton, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families at Sheffield City Council, said: “Poverty is affecting people in many different ways from rising bills, stagnating wages, 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. We need to give them our support and do everything we can to make life easier for people who are struggling to get by.

“The pledge we have come together to formally sign today 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 the basic things in life and the pledge reaffirms our commitment to helping provide that.”

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 focusing 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, says the Tackling Poverty Strategy will build on the progress already made in Sheffield to help the poorest people in the city.
This has included boosting employment opportunities, which means Sheffield now has the fourth highest proportion of teenagers in apprenticeships of any local authority in the country.

The council has also helped bring their energy bills down through the Big Sheffield Switch, which more than 3,100 people have signed up to this year. Sheffield Money will be launched soon, providing an affordable and ethical alternative to high-cost credit, and the council recently announced new funding for food banks and to tackle food poverty.

Cllr Iqbal added: “The cuts to public spending, benefit changes and increased living costs are having a massive impact on many people’s lives and that’s why I am absolutely determined to do something about the poverty people face, as are my colleagues and partners across the city.

“We need to build on the progress already made and signing this pledge today really shows how important this is to us.

“Factors outside our control locally mean that poverty is set to increase in Sheffield as it is right across the country. We 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.”

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

Dr Margaret Ainger, GP for the Children’s Portfolio at NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), attended the event to sign the pledge. She also said: “Sheffield GPs are acutely aware of how poverty undermines families, makes life a struggle and leads to poor health despite the best efforts of everyone within the healthcare system.

“As a Clinical Commissioning Group, we are determined to reduce the health inequalities in our city. We can’t achieve this without working in partnership with all our partner agencies and with our communities. The Tackling Poverty Strategy will underpin our plans to address health inequalities in Sheffield and work towards better health outcomes for local people.”