Renfrewshire Council

Local Child Poverty Action Report

This is the third Local Child Poverty Action Report produced by Renfrewshire Council. The report captures the range of activity that has taken place in Renfrewshire to reduce child poverty in 2020/21 and looks forward to the actions planned for 21/22 and beyond. With a focus on recovery and renewal, the Report has a greater emphasis on the next 12 months and on longer term work being undertaken to respond and recover from the impacts of the pandemic and to support those disproportionately impacted with issues such as low income, insecure employment, caring responsibilities and disabilities.

Report Summary

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on our communities, causing a massive shift in our services, and although much of that impact is still coming to light we also know many effects will be longer term, and we have developed a term Social Renewal Plan in response which, along with our Economic Recovery Plan and refreshed Service Delivery plans, will complement the clear strategic direction set out by our Council Plan and Community Plan in these unprecedented and rapidly changing times.

Our investment in our Tackling Poverty programme continues to mitigate the effects of child poverty specifically. In 2021/22 this will be bolstered by £1.4million to deliver our Social Renewal Action Plan, which puts listening to communities and address inequalities at its core. Our work with Poverty Alliance this year to better capture the voices of people with lived experience of poverty is central to this work moving forward.

In addition we will continue to work with NHSGGC, our Health and Social Care Partnership and many other external and third sector organisations to support children and families in Renfrewshire.

This report focusses on our longer term response to the pandemic, but also highlights our actions and achievements throughout 2020/21. These include:

  • Approval of our Economic Recovery Plan 2020-22 which focuses on job retention and creation, employability, supporting upskilling and innovation, tackling inequalities and delivering a 'green' recovery.
  • With £1m per year invested in our Tackling Poverty Programme over 5 years, this continues to have a positive impact on low income families in Renfrewshire, supporting projects such as Healthier Wealthier Children advice, Cost of the School Day, and provision of energy advice specifically to families.
  • Our work on Community Food has supported a wide range of Place Based Responses to food insecurity and issues of food access. This has allowed thousands of families throughout Renfrewshire to access food in a dignified way.
  • Renfrewshire was one of the few local authorities in Scotland to carry out Participatory Budgeting exercises in 2020/21. Youth Services, the Chief Executive Service and Renfrewshire Youth Voice supported another round of 'Celebrating Renfrewshire', the youth-led participatory budgeting exercise. Over 1,700 young people voted on the 80 project ideas which were submitted, and £124,437 was awarded to youth projects across Renfrewshire.
  • Our employability service, Invest in Renfrewshire, offers a wide range of tailored supports to help residents on the journey towards and into employment. Amongst the many clients they have supported this year were 78 clients who are part of a household with dependent children with 56 of these lone parent households. Invest continues to use Parental Employability Support Funding to target and support the priority groups identified in the 'Every Child Every Chance' report.
  • In October 2020 the Council bid to be a Kickstart provider and to be the Gateway organisation for local businesses to get involved. The Kickstart Scheme aims to create 6- month work placements for those aged 16 to 24 who are in receipt of Universal Credit. The aim is for 700 places to be created across Renfrewshire and already 200 employers have signed up to create at least one Kickstart Job Placement with 455 job placements approved so far.
  • Even in the challenging circumstances brought about by the pandemic, the number of accredited living wage employers in Renfrewshire have increased by 9 this year to 80, and we continue our work to increase this number. In addition NHSGGC became an accredited Living Wage employer in November 2020, positioning them as the largest NHS Board in Scotland to have done so.
  • Our Energy Advocates have worked with 1049 clients this year to reduce bills and energy debt saving them almost £315,000 including ongoing savings, write offs and Warm Home Discounts. This includes 343 families with young children who saved £112,881.
  • Our Cost of the School Day funding is flexible and has been used to support new and diverse needs during the pandemic. Food vouchers, energy top-ups, toiletries and warm clothing have been supplied this year as well as more usual items such as stationery and school uniforms. For the year 2020/21, £123,000 was allocated to the fund, of which £75,000 was from the Tackling Poverty Programme and £48,000 was from Attainment Challenge.
  • Sanitary product provision has diversified this year with many venues and community settings where products had previously been available closed. The social enterprise, Hey Girls were contracted to provide an online ordering and home delivery service, with a supplementary telephone ordering services run by our own Neighbourhood Hubs.
  • Advice is a vitally important part of our efforts to tackle child poverty, and apart from our own Advice Works service, the Council also provides funding to Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau to provide both a general advice service and a community legal advice service. An additional Welfare Rights service has been funded this year, and RCAB have been awarded a further £100,000 in the 2021/22 budget for an Employment Advice service. The Council also supports the Healthier Wealthier Children and Families First Projects, providing dedicated advice services to families with children. Advice has continued to be provided throughout the pandemic and Council funded services have put millions of pounds into our families pockets.
  • The Council has continued to work with Social Security Scotland across a number of services, including schools and nurseries, to ensure our citizens know about, and are claiming the benefits they are entitled to. As a valued member of our Advice Partnership and Our Children network, Social Security Scotland also engage with a wide variety of partners throughout Renfrewshire to increase uptake of Scottish benefits, especially those for families with low incomes.
  • There is still a clear commitment and expectation within Renfrewshire to raise attainment for all whilst closing the poverty-related attainment gap and plans were revised to ensure responsiveness during the pandemic. We also continue to focus relentlessly on improving the mental and emotional wellbeing of children, young people and families. The mental health challenges experienced by some individuals and families have been a major finding of our Community Impact Assessment into how our communities have been affected by the pandemic.
  • In response to the pandemic Renfrewshire Council worked with partners to support digital participation and 1590 devices awarded to a wide range of Renfrewshire public sector and community based organisations through the Connecting Scotland programme.
  • A new process was introduced to capture as many possible council tax reduction applications during telephone applications in cases when the customer had mentioned they had a decrease to their income. This led to an additional 91 council tax reduction claims. We also proactively contacted all those notifying a death, all shielding and all who had paid council tax last year but not this year to establish whether any support was needed. This led to a variety of actions to write off debts, set up payment plans and award new discounts and further council tax reductions, in many cases for families with children.
  • Our partners also carry out a significant amount of work in Renfrewshire to reduce child poverty, and organisations throughout Renfrewshire have adapted their services to work with families online and provide a different kind of service to meet emerging demand such as dropping off food and activity packs.

While we recognise that much has been achieved this year, we will continue to work with partners, in communities and across all services to ensure our low-income families are supported and child poverty is reduced. We will also work to meet the changing needs of those living in Renfrewshire as we move to recovery.


You can read the full Local Child PovertyAction Report for 20-21 here.

Published August 2021