Child Poverty and NHS Ayrshire & Arran Corporate responsibility: Co-ordination of the Scottish Government Child Poverty Action Plan

Child Poverty

One in five children in Scotland live in poverty. In some parts of Ayrshire and Arran the level of child poverty is nearly double the national level.

Child poverty across the UK had decreased steadily from the late 1990’s but levelled off from around 2010/11. A range of structural factors, such as globalisation and the economic recession in 2008, combined with changes to UK policies on child poverty and reforms to the Welfare System are believed to be responsible for this stalling of improvements in child poverty levels.

Independent projections of the impact of changes to the benefits system, including the introduction of Universal Credit, have predicted that the improvements in child poverty seen in the last 20 years will be undone in a matter of years.

Living in poverty has profound negative consequences on the health and wellbeing of children, affects the child’s experience of education and employment and results in life-long inequalities being experienced.

The Scottish Government is re-instating national income-based targets to reduce child poverty in Scotland by the year by 2030, with a statutory duty being placed on Scottish ministers to develop three-year national action plans to reduce child poverty levels from 2018.

Local Authorities and NHS Health Boards will have a duty to report jointly on local child poverty action plans from 2019. The child poverty priority area from the Early Years and Maternal Health workstream for Ayrshire and Arran’s Children and Young People Transformational Change Programme will inform and support the development and reporting of the local child poverty action plans.

The joint strategic needs assessment (JSNA) for children aged 0 to 5 years arose from discussions at the Pan-Ayrshire strategic forum meetings in September and November 2016. A range of partners from across NHS Ayrshire & Arran, Children’s Services teams from the three Ayrshire local authorities, the three HSCPs, and third sector organisations met to identify how best to improve child health outcomes for babies and children in Ayrshire and Arran.

The JSNA was refined to focus on three priority areas in the first instance, namely: smoking in pregnancy; breast feeding and child poverty, on the basis that improvements in these outcomes will bring significant health benefits to local children.

For each of these priority areas, the JSNA compiles the most recent local health and wellbeing intelligence nationally and locally, and highlights the evidence-base for the most effective interventions known to improve outcomes.

There were already a range of services and interventions in place to support improvements in each priority area in Ayrshire and Arran, and these were captured in the JSNA. The integration of all the relevant information, along with extensive consultation, resulted in a range of recommendations for partners to focus on in order to improve children’s outcomes.

Ayrshire and Arran performs poorly compared to the rest of Scotland regarding smoking in pregnancy, breast feeding and child poverty due to a complex mixture of structural, socio-economic and cultural factors.

This JSNA for Early Years will be a resource for colleagues across Ayrshire and Arran to combine with their own expertise to learn, innovate and improve services essential to deliver transformational change for child health.


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