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Young people to be at heart of future City Council decisions

A Young Person's Champion is to be appointed to Worcester City Council, putting issues such as child poverty, youth employment and young people's well-being at the heart of future decision-making.

The decision, which was made following a motion presented by Cllr Joy Squires to Full Council on 23 February 2021, will see all future City Council policies and decisions assessed for their impact on children and young people.

The move reflects growing concern about emerging inequalities faced by young people in Worcester – an issue that was raised at the Communities Committee meeting this week (17 March).

A report on Child Poverty presented to members stated that in 2019/20, 22% of households with children were living in absolute poverty (where household income is insufficient to cover the basic necessities of life) before housing costs – and that 30% of households with children (7,177) were living in absolute poverty after housing costs.This is a 3.3% and 2.0% increase respectively since 2016/17.

"Worcester City Council is responsible for the delivery of major future investments such as the £17.9 million High Street Fund and potential £28 million Towns Fund," said Cllr James Stanley, Chair of Worcester City Council's Communities Committee.

"These present big opportunities to address inequalities by ensuring they will create more jobs, better educational opportunities and engaging leisure facilities for young people, supporting their long-term prospects, health and well-being."

"The COVID pandemic has not only impacted on our young people's education, job prospects and well-being; it has also exposed pre-existing inequalities in our city," said Cllr Lynn Denham, Vice Chair of the Communities Committee.

"By putting children at the heart of the City Council's decision-making, we can start to take action to reverse inequalities and improve life chances for all our young people."

The Communities Committee will work with the Young Person's Champion to implement actions to combat child poverty. These include ensuring health inequalities resulting from child poverty are fully addressed in the new Worcestershire Health and Wellbeing Strategy; continuation of support to struggling families through the Worcester City Discretionary Welfare Assistance Scheme and setting up new community allotments and gardens to help address food poverty.

The Young Person's Champion appointment will be announced later in the year.

Click here to access the Communities Committee report on child poverty (p.25).

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