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Opinion: Education is crucial to alleviating poverty

PUBLISHED: 08:00 04 March 2018

MP Julia Lopez aims to focus on improving Havering's schools, helping local businesses and healthcare and community services.

MP Julia Lopez aims to focus on improving Havering's schools, helping local businesses and healthcare and community services.

Archant

The disparity of treatment between inner and outer London boroughs was one of the issues I pledged to raise with government when I first got elected in June.

I was therefore delighted to secure an extra £2.1million for Havering in local government funding a fortnight ago, after Andrew Rosindell MP, Cllr Roger Ramsey and I made a strong case to the government for additional cash.

Last week in a debate about child poverty, I highlighted the rapid changes under way in our part of London that are placing pressure on services.

Havering is one of London’s lowest funded boroughs yet has the oldest population in the capital as well as the fastest growing number of children of any borough for the past three years in a row.

This has led to a significant demand for children’s social care and services for those with disabilities and special educational needs.

Population change also strains housing supply, causing rents to leap. Havering is champing at the bit to undertake an ambitious estate regeneration plan to provide local families with a greater range of affordable housing options, and I am pushing for government help in fulfilling that ambition.

Education has always provided a crucial ladder when it comes to poverty alleviation, and I am lucky to represent a constituency with some of the best primary schools in England, including in some of the country’s poorest wards.

The past 20 years have seen an intense focus on how to enhance academic performance in inner city areas, particularly among black and ethnic minority students. We now need to refresh this approach by looking perhaps at a new TeachFirst programme to deal with white working class areas that are falling behind, a major drive to improve the quality of pre-school provision and more intensive help for families looking after disabled children.

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