Agenda item

Agenda item

Tackling and Preventing Child Poverty (proposed by Cllr Djafarbi-Marbini, seconded by Cllr Dunne)

Labour Group member motion

Council notes:

Child poverty in Oxford is sadly persistent. In 2019, 29% of children in Oxford lived below the poverty line, approximately 9 children in every class of 30, a horrendously high figure given the prosperity of the city and country. The majority (70% nationally) of these children live in working families, in which the cost of living crisis has now combined with the existing problems of unaffordable housing and low wage, poor quality jobs to make life even more challenging. The data are even more stark amongst racialised minorities and families living with disabilities.

It is almost impossible to list exhaustively the negative consequences on children of growing up in poverty. Poorer health outcomes, lower educational attainment and earnings, and higher entrapment in the criminal justice system are pervasive themes which resonate into adulthood and cause life-long scarring and stigmatisation. The stigma of poverty is one of many compelling reasons for universal and “cash first” approaches favoured by most local and national experts in the field.

However, the struggles which accompany not having sufficient resources to engage in society on the same basis as everybody else though are of concern right now, and require an immediate response. In the words of Baroness Lister of Burtersett, Honorary President of Child Poverty Action Group children should be valued and cared for as “beings” rather than “becomings”.

It is striking that in the discourse around poverty the voices of children and families living in poverty are often missing. There are some notable exceptions which reveal devastating testimony such as “Poverty feels like a tangled web that you can never escape” (ATD Fourth World/Oxford University) and: “[it] makes me feel sad when mum says we haven’t got much money but I’m OK with it and have to support my mum” (Milton Keynes Child Poverty Commission).

Despite the national constraints, our Council has taken a huge number of positive steps over many years to tackle inequalities in the city, without which the situation would undoubtedly have been much worse. These include an ambitious housing strategy, a comprehensive Council Tax Reduction scheme and Discretionary Housing Payments, sustained support for the city’s advice centres and work on the Oxford Living Wage.

This Council:

·       Notes the work already being done to tackle the causes of child poverty.

·       Requests that the Head of Corporate Strategy submits a report to Cabinet with options to consider how:

a.    The Socio-economic Duty could be implemented within all council policies, and

b.    Partnership institutions, including Oxford University, could be encouraged to adopt the Socio-economic Duty.

·       Requests that the Head of Communities submits a report to Cabinet with options to:

a.    Develop a Child Poverty Strategy informed by the voices of young people directly affected.

b.    Implement more immediate actions such as:

§  Donation of devices to Getting Oxfordshire Online

§  Considering how parents and carers in or at risk of destitution (including those with no recourse to public funds) can access support via “food first” and “cash first” approaches.


This motion was not taken as the time allocated for debate had finished.