Bristol is pleased to publish its first Child Poverty Strategy, which is based on an extensive needs assessment and citywide consultation.
The most recent full national data release showed that 21,835 Bristol children live in poverty (26.7%) – the highest number and highest percentage in the south west. These are the children least likely to have opportunities to move away for education and career development – and so most likely to be the Bristol citizens on whom our aspirations for 2020 and beyond will rest.
It is in nobody’s interest that, in a city which aspires to be one of the flagship cities of Europe, over a quarter of our children are growing up lacking in many of the basics for their development whose absence is so costly – both to the public purse and to their life chances.
Our children who live in poverty miss out on the opportunities, living standards and experiences of their peers, suffer hardship and deprivation, and are at risk of lifelong social exclusion. They are less likely to be healthy, from cradle to grave; less likely to attend school and to remain in learning post-16; less likely to gain qualifications and more likely to be trapped into an ongoing cycle of deprivation and dependency. More likely to be victims of crime and to offend themselves.
There has been a clear recognition throughout the process of writing this strategy that there are extremely strong moral and economic imperatives to take what actions we can. Child poverty is an agenda where no single action or single agency will ‘make all the difference’, but there are many partners across the city in the public, private and voluntary sectors whose commitment and actions can and do make a difference to families on a daily basis. It is the purpose of this strategy to raise awareness of what needs tackling so that all partners continue to play their part, in the most aligned way possible, in supporting this challenging agenda.