The evaluation of pilot projects showed that the economic downturn is having an adverse effect on child poverty and that intervention to alleviate the impact of poverty is too narrowly focused.
The pilot programmes were set up in 2009 to assess the influence on child poverty of increasing employment opportunities for parents, raising family income through the improved take-up of tax credits and benefits, narrowing the outcome gap between children in low income families and their peers, promoting economic regeneration and building the capacity of communities to address child poverty.
Although there was a high demand for intensive family support, the outcomes were not always satisfactory. Employment outcomes were mixed, with the economic downturn limiting the opportunities for parents supported by the programmes and raising questions about the longer-term prospects of parents who have had their skills and employability increased.
There is a lack of broad and responsive provision that can support families to identify and address barriers to improved outcomes. Targeted interventions often fail to look beyond the focus of their activity, meaning that where a member of a family is engaged their wider and family needs are not recognised or addressed.
The programmes have been developed and delivered in a true pilot ethos, with local strategic and delivery arrangements that enabled ongoing reflection upon progress and learning and the amendment of delivery as a result.
Finally, time is an important element for pilot provision – to develop, to engage parents, and to achieve outcomes.