Well, just as we were drawing breath after the London elections, we find ourselves back in election mode once more. And once again we will be straining every sinew to ensure that child poverty is a central issue of the campaign and one that all the political parties are held to account on. In particular we will be making the case for all parties to pledge to a child poverty strategy that not only makes firm and time-bound commitments about reducing and ultimately eradicating child poverty but also recognises that achieving this aim will require different approaches in different parts of the country.

Of course, some of the key policies that we, along with over 100 other members of the End Child Poverty Coalition, want to see front and centre in a child poverty strategy such as abolition of the two-child limit and benefit cap, are ones that an incoming Government in Westminster alone can implement. But we also need a child poverty strategy that operates regionally and locally so that it can respond to the different contexts that children live in across the country. For example, in the North East child poverty is driven in large part by low pay, insecure work and out-of-work poverty (North East Child Poverty Commission, 2024), whereas in London it is exorbitantly high housing costs along with costs such as childcare that are the major issue. Important new analysis from our colleagues at Trust for London and WPI Economics exploring the possible reasons behind the apparent fall in overall poverty numbers in London in the past few years, suggests that costs are now so high that for many people the only way to escape poverty in our city is to leave it.

A national child poverty strategy that fails to recognise these regional differences and allow for differential responses is not going to have the impact it so urgently needs to. The incoming Government, must engage with and harness the data and knowledge that the Greater London Authority, combined and local authorities have about their regions and localities and establish mechanisms to ensure sustained focus and action on the issue at regional and local level.  Moreover, it needs to recognise the impact that the collapse of local government funding has had on children’s services which has undoubtedly affected the poorest children most. It is crucial that a child poverty strategy ensures that local authorities are sufficiently resourced to meet the needs of the children living in their communities.

So, in answer to the question, yes, a national child poverty can and must deliver for all the UK’s children, no child wherever they live should be experiencing poverty, but this will only be achieved if we acknowledge and respond to their different circumstances. From our perspective as the London Child Poverty Network, we will use the coming weeks to champion as loudly as we can the right of the 700,000 children living in poverty in London to live in a poverty free city, a goal that we firmly believe is achievable if the political will is there to achieve it.