Children's Services

Hampshire's Children and Young People's Plan

Priority 1:

Addressing the incidence and reducing the impact of poverty on the achievement and life chances of children and young people

This priority sets out our strategy for reducing and mitigating the effects of child poverty, as required by the Child Poverty Act 2010.

Key win

Increasing the proportion of pupils acheiving five or more GCSEs grade A*-C, including English and mathematics, who are in receipt of free school meals.

Poverty has a profound impact on the health and well-being of children. They can lack the positive experiences and opportunities of other children, including poorer health, attainment and low aspirations. Child poverty is complex and its effects can be long-lasting and hard to escape.

By working together and taking a whole community approach, we will support families to lift themselves out of poverty, thereby reducing the impact of poverty on children and young people’s educational attainment and life chances. This means focusing on the children and families most in need, and the areas that are most deprived, tackling the issues that will make a difference in the long term. Our approach will cover employment and skills, health, housing, financial support, education, family support, and childcare.

Delivery of this priority is closely linked to the development and implementation of an Economic Development Strategy for Hampshire. It is also supported by the work of Local Enterprise Partnerships, which are partnerships between local authorities and businesses, formed to help determine local economic priorities and lead growth and job creation in an area.

Key activity areas:

  • identifying children and families most in need, through careful analysis and a partnership approach
  • helping families to access a range of employment and training services in their communities, including adult and community learning, careers advice, volunteering and employment support
  • increasing awareness of local services and targeting health, parenting and family support services (including through children’s centres)
  • promoting and maximising uptake of benefits
  • ensuring there is sufficient flexible and affordable childcare, so far as is reasonably practicable
  • increasing take up of free Early Years education in the most disadvantaged areas and extending free Early Years education to all eligible two year olds
  • raising the quality of Early Years education in disadvantaged areas
  • promoting and supporting a relentless focus on improving educational outcomes of children from low income families across the Hampshire school system
  • identifying and supporting schools in greatest need to promote educational aspiration and the belief that all children can, and will, succeed
  • creating opportunities and supporting young people to find employment, helping to break intergenerational cycles of poverty
  • ensuring there is sufficient, affordable, quality (including warm) housing for families and vulnerable young people, as far as is reasonably practicable
  • maximising use of resources across agencies to support families, including co-ordinated assessment processes.

How this has improved since 2009

Sure Start children’s centres

Children’s centres have been developed and re-structured over the last three years and are now in place across the county. Their focus is on helping the most vulnerable families, including those in poverty. Services provided include: antenatal and postnatal groups, child health checks, advice and guidance through Job Centre Plus, and family support and outreach. The percentage of families defined as being hard to reach, who accessed a children’s centre increased from 19.6% in 2010/11 to 27.3% between November 2011 and January 2012. The term hard to reach includes: teenage parents, families of prisoners, families with mental health problems, families in temporary accommodation, and lone parents.

A new pattern of centres is being implemented, in order to meet funding challenges and secure services for the future. Management of some centres is being merged, creating 15 clusters, operating across 81 locations. Services will be provided across all existing centre buildings.

The core purpose of children’s centres is to improve outcomes for young children and families and reduce inequalities. Activities identify, reach and help the families in greatest need to support:

  • child development and school readiness: supporting personal, social and emotional development, physical development and communication and language from pre-birth to five
  • parenting aspirations and skills: so that parents and carers are able to give their child the best start in life
  • child and family health and life chances: promoting good physical and mental health for children and their families, supporting parents and carers to access education, training and employment, and addressing risk factors so that children are safe.

Narrowing the gap

The gap between the lowest achieving 20% at Early Years Foundation Stage and their peers has reduced each year, from 33.1% in 2007/08 to 29% in 2010/11. This has been generated by improving Early Years education in areas of deprivation, through qualified teachers within children’s centres, and targeting support to schools and childcare settings where improvement is needed most.

Access to childcare for low income families

Partnership working has been central to efforts to encourage eligible parents and carers to access the childcare element of Working Tax Credits. Take up has increased slightly from 16.0% in 2006/07 to 16.5% in 2008/09. Schemes for affordable childcare have been promoted through publications for parents/carers and providers, Hampshire Now and Hantsweb, Chambers of Commerce, district newsletters and magazines.

Hampshire’s childcare settings have implemented the flexible nursery entitlement, meaning that three and four year olds are entitled to 15 hours a week of free Early Years education available over three or more days. We also participated in a pilot to provide childcare, parent support and outreach to the most vulnerable two year olds living within areas of Gosport and Havant. As part of the offer, eligible children were entitled to a place of up to 10 hours per week, for 38 weeks a year, in an accredited Early Years education provision. This scheme is being extended to all eligible two year olds across the county from September 2013.

Why this is still a priority

In Hampshire, large areas of affluence mask smaller underlying areas of significant deprivation. A specific data analysis exercise to map the incidence and impact of child poverty in Hampshire, covering a range of measures including workless households, family income and gaps in attainment, found that the most affected areas were in the New Forest and Havant.

Furthermore, the number of children living in poverty in Hampshire has increased as a result of recession. The number of primary pupils eligible for free school meals rose from 8.9% in 2009 to 10.9% in 2011, and the percentage of secondary pupils eligible increased from 6.8% in 2009 to 8.1% in 2011. The percentage of children living in families in receipt of out-of-work benefits, or tax credits, with income less than 60% of the median average, rose from 12.2% in 2008 to 13.1% in 2009.

The full analysis is available in the Child Poverty Needs Assessment, which is provided online at: hants.gov.uk/child_poverty_needs_assessment_2011.pdf Download Acrobat Reader to view this PDF 1mb