A report published by the Northern Health Science Alliance, Child of the North: Building a fairer future after Covid-19 paints a bleak picture, caused by chronic underfunding in the North of England.
Inequalities which were in existence before Covid have since deepened, with children in the North East, North West and Yorkshire and Humber being affected disproportionately. They now have poorer educational outcomes which authors of the report predict will affect their lifetime incomes.
Due to frequent lockdowns in some local areas, compared to the rest of the country, children in those areas lost more education. Their health and mental well-being has also consequently been impacted.
The report states this must be addressed by a child-first place-based recovery plan and recommendations include:
- Tackle the negative impacts of the pandemic in the North through rapid, focussed investment in early years services, including health visiting, family hubs and children’s centres.
- Commissioners of maternity and early years services must consider the impact of pandemic related service changes on inequalities in families and children’s experiences and outcomes.
- Increase child benefit by £10 per child per week. Increase the child element in Universal Credit and increase child tax credits.
- Support educational settings to initiate earlier interventions. Teachers and early years professionals see many of the first indicators of children’s risk and vulnerabilities.
- Prioritising strong pupil and staff relationships and collaboration with parents/carers will ensure a firm foundation for meeting children’s needs, and for a return to learning.