Merton makes pledge to reduce child poverty

Merton Council pledged its commitment to reducing the number of children living in poverty at last week’s full council meeting when Merton’s leader, Councillor David Williams and chief executive, Ged Curran signed the London Child Poverty Pledge. In signing the pledge, Councillor Williams also becomes the council’s ‘Child Poverty Champion’.

The pledge sets out a number of high-level activities, which Merton council will be taking to tackle child poverty by supporting parents to take up training and employment and improving access to affordable childcare among other measures.

Signatories are required to submit plans that outline clearly the actions and commitments they will make to tackle child poverty in their area. The pledge’s recommended activities will also feed into Merton’s developing Child Poverty Action Plan.

Councillor Debbie Shears, cabinet member for children’s services at Merton Council said: “Narrowing the gap in Merton is a key priority for the council. By publicly putting pen to paper, we are making clear our strong and lasting commitment to bringing positive changes to the lives of Merton’s children and young people.

“This pledge demonstrates the council’s real determination to build on the considerable amount of work already being undertaken with our partners and Merton’s voluntary sector to tackle child poverty. We want residents to know that we are committed to promoting parental employment, maximising family incomes, raising educational standards and improving outcomes for the poorest children in the borough.”

Some specific actions Merton has pledged to deliver on include:

Launching a new family service directory and young Merton website

The delivery of a Merton employability programme

Providing ongoing support to targeted, unemployed low income parents through a new employability programme

Training frontline and outreach staff to ensure a consistent “think family” approach

Working in partnership with childcare providers to ensure there is sufficient and affordable childcare available for training and working families

Jointly commission, with the PCT, services in areas where the number of workless families and children and young people living in poverty is high.

For more information about Merton’s commitment to reducing child poverty and narrowing the gap email Allison Jones at fis@merton.gov.uk or phone 020 8545 3800.

Notes to editors:
The Child Poverty Pledge is for any organisation that delivers services for families in London – including regional arms of delivery agencies; local authorities; children’s services; health services; housing services; employment services; colleges; schools; children’s centres and any other public service and third sector providers.

The signing of the child poverty pledge demonstrates a clear recognition that, in order to tackle child poverty, organisations must increase their focus on the additional needs of poor parents and families, and attempt to make particular improvements to the services offered to, and the outcomes generated for, London’s poor families.

Visit http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/parents/thepledge

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