Growing inequalities for children in the north of England are costing billions, increasing poverty and costing children’s lives



Professor of Public Health and Policy at the University of Liverpool and co-author of the David Taylor Robinson report said: “Children who grow up in the north of England get bad business. Due to poverty and a lack of investment, their outcomes have been worse across the board – from childhood death to obesity, mental health and education, and the pandemic has made the situation worse. The major inequalities revealed in our report are preventable and unjust. Ascension must begin with better guidelines for children. “

Hannah Davies, Health Inequalities, director of the Northern Health Science Alliance and co-author of the report, said: “This new report makes it very clear that without significant, adequately funded action to address the deeply ingrained inequalities that children in the north of England face from birth, there will be no leveling off in the country.”

Stephen Parkinson, of the N8 research partnership and co-authored the reportHe said: “If we do not focus on children in recovery, we risk exposing them to some of the most lasting effects of the pandemic. As outlined in this report, children growing up in the north are disproportionately affected in many ways, and we invite governments at all levels to review our recommendations in order to ensure the best possible future for them. “

The authors have made a number of recommendations to address the inequalities children suffer from as the pandemic progresses. They include:

  1. Increase government investment in social, health and welfare systems that support children’s health, especially in deprived areas and areas hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Combat the negative effects of the pandemic in the north with rapid, targeted investments in early childhood services like the Health Improvement Fund. This should include health visits, family centers, and children’s centers – as supported in the leadsom review – but with ineeds-based investments and widespread disadvantage are adequately taken into account.
  3. Maternity and childcare officers must consider the impact of pandemic-induced changes in service on inequalities in families and the experiences and outcomes of children. This must shape the service delivery during recovery.
  4. Take immediate action to tackle child poverty. Increase child benefit by £ 10 per child per week. Increase the child in the universal loan and increase the child tax break.
  5. We have to feed our children. Introduce general free school meals, consolidate the holiday activities and nutrition program, and expand it to all low-income families. Promote the provision of vouchers for a healthy start to all children under the age of five and make the current state food standards mandatory in all day-care centers.
  6. The government should give priority to helping disadvantaged communities by increasing school spending for the most disadvantaged students in England. This requires a reversal of the current approach to resource allocation: the new national funding formula will allocate 3 to 4 percentage points less to schools in poorer areas compared to schools in more affluent areas.
  7. Support educational institutions to initiate earlier interventions. Teachers and professionals in early childhood recognize many of the earliest indicators of child risk and vulnerability. Prioritizing strong student-staff relationships and working with parents / carers will ensure a solid foundation for meeting children’s needs and for a return to learning.
  8. The NHS England and the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities should take a public approach to mental health with an emphasis on preventing mental illness early in life and recognizing the importance of early detection and rapid access to professional treatment.
  9. The government should invest in and develop a location-based surveillance system to understand the longer-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of children and parents. Targeted support should then be directed to families as needed, including outreach services that are more tailored to the needs of vulnerable parents.
  10. To better understand location-based inequalities, area-based measures of children’s physical and mental health should be developed.
  11. More research should be done by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) on the relationship between child health and economic performance, particularly to understand the likely causal pathways between them in order to identify avenues for policy action.
  12. The government should reinvest in services to combat domestic violence, recognizing the role domestic violence plays not only in the admission of children to care, but also in divorce and separation cases with high conflict potential, which are also disproportionately common in the north .
  13. Address the unequal geographic distribution of child care, including safe provision, to alleviate the disproportionate burden on the north.

An impact assessment of the disproportionate cost of a number of services in the north due to the number of children with complex care and support needs is needed and long overdue.

  1. Integrate equity impact assessments into all COVID-19 recovery processes and other policy processes related to socio-economic deprivation at the national, regional and local levels.
  2. Use children’s rights impact assessments to anticipate and assess the specific impacts of COVID-19 recovery strategies on children and adolescents. Gather, disaggregate and publish relevant data so that the impact of the pandemic on children can be routinely assessed.
  3. Promotion and expansion of the Race Disparity Audit by sharpening the focus on children and using data broken down by region. Ethnicity should be included in all national public health data collection systems, including child and maternal health datasets.
  4. Increase the representation of ethnic minority staff in public services and decision-making processes with specific recruitment targets, recruitment campaigns and more transparency on the percentage of ethnic minority staff. This should be the case especially in managerial positions to reflect the population groups served.
  5. Local strategies to recover from COVID-19 must be based on internationally recognized human rights-based values ​​and principles, particularly those contained in the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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