On Friday 28th November 2014, Darlington Partnership hosted the Prosperity for All Conference at the Dolphin Centre, Darlington. Over 180 representatives from sectors including education, voluntary, business and government spent the morning looking at hard facts surrounding poverty in Darlington and what needs to be done to try to achieve prosperity for all.
During his introduction, Councillor Bill Dixon – Leader of Darlington Borough Council, welcomed the delegates and set out that the aim of the morning was to focus on what actions can be taken locally to halt the recent increases in poverty and improve the financial wellbeing and life chances of those currently living in poverty.
The Right Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, spoke on Ending Hunger Fast and reminded us that poverty is a complex matter which is not confined to economics. He discussed the living wage and food poverty and gave seven recommendations from a report which are believed would dramatically reduce the number of people needing to use foodbanks.
A full transcript of his speech [external site] is available.
The Right Honourable Alan Milburn addressed the conference on Poverty and Social Mobility in the UK. His State of the Nation report: Social Mobility and Child Poverty in Great Britain was published in October and threatens that the UK is at risk of becoming a divided nation. He said that 2020 is likely to mark the end of the first decade since records began in which there has not been a fall in absolute poverty.
Mr Milburn suggested that poor schools are easing people into poor jobs with pay below the living wage. He said that while many education establishments are doing good work, 35% of children are not reaching expected levels in reading, writing and maths at the age of 11. His recommendations are that the next government should be setting targets to reduce the attainment gap in children and that vocational training should meet the needs of the local labour market.
The points addressed by Alan attracted interest from the media:
Former cabinet minister calls on next Government to end low pay [external link]
Prof. Margaret Whitehead, Head of Public Health and Policy at the University of Liverpool, gave a presentation on the findings of the Due North Report in relation to Darlington.
A panel discussion, chaired by Jenny Chapman MP, focussed on what actions can and should be taken locally to tackle increases in poverty and to improve the financial wellbeing and life chances of those currently living in poverty in Darlington. The panel consisted of
Delegates were able to put forward questions to the panel and to make suggestions on the way forward.
At the end of the session the panel members gave their recommendations on what actions should now be taken:
The full overview of outcomes and actions from the morning is being compiled and will be available shortly.
The conference was informed by three significant reports that have been published recently:
Due North. In February 2014, Public Health England (PHE) commissioned an inquiry to examine Health Inequalities affecting the North of England which resulted in the publication of this report. The aim of Due North is to develop recommendations for policies that can address the social inequalities in health within the North and between the North and the rest of England. Access a summary of the report [external link].
State of the Nation 2014. This is the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission’s second annual State of the Nation report to be presented to Parliament. The Commission was created by the UK Government in 2012 as an independent and statutory body to monitor and report on what is happening to child poverty and social mobility in our country. Access a summary of the State of the Nation report [external link].
The Scope of Poverty in Darlington. Towards the end of 2013 Darlington Partnership Board became increasingly concerned about the growing incidence of poverty in Darlington. Their resolve to act hardened when they received this report [pdf document].