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News Report Page 7 of 26
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With month to go until Government plans to reduce Universal Credit by ₤20 Sefton's families will be some of the hardest hits

WITH just a month to go until Government plans to reduce Universal Credit by ₤20 a week are scheduled to come effect Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council's Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing, has added her voice to the widespread concern about the cut and the effect it will have on Sefton families. Cllr Hardy said:- "A high proportion of households across Sefton, including:- many working families, rely on Universal Credit and this number has increased as a result of the Pandemic and the effect it has had locally on jobs. If the Government goes ahead with its plans to cut Universal Credit by ₤20 next month it will be a disaster for those families many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet."

Last week, 100 organisations, including:- charities, children's doctors and public health experts wrote to the Prime Minister calling on him to abandon his Government's plans to go ahead with the ₤20 reduction. Among the 100 signatories to the letter were Business in the Community which was founded by:- The Prince of Wales, Oxfam, Save the Children, the Trussell Trust, the Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health, and the Conservative think tank Bright Blue.

Analysis by Citizens Advice has shown that ₤20 a week is equivalent to 6 days of energy costs or 3 days of food costs for a low income family. Separate academic research shows 63% of people supported the ₤20 increase during the Pandemic, and 50% supported making it permanent. Cllr Hardy continued:- "It has been estimated that by slashing Universal Credit by ₤20 each week or ₤1,040 per year, the Government is going to push around ˝ million families across the country, including many in Sefton, into poverty. And we know that as well as the day to day strain it puts on individuals and families, poverty has the largest impact on infant mortality and during childhood, it is the 1st step to poor physical and mental health. During the Pandemic more Sefton families have fallen falling into the absolute or relative low income category and we have seen eligibility for free School meals rise. Sefton has a high proportion of jobs that tend to be lower paid and even with the ₤20 increase in Universal Credit, working families have found themselves in poverty. Taking that money away from them next month represents a disaster, particularly when you consider the health issues these workers and their children will face and will make a mockery of any claims by the Prime Minister's claim to be on the side of families. During the Covid19 Pandemic Sefton Council has given out over 4,800 payments for emergency helps and made over 2,700 Discretionary Housing Payments to help people struggling with rents and bills. Our website contains information for people on Universal Credit, benefits and a range of related topics including help with rent and Council Tax and the Borough's Foodbank Network at:- Sefton.Gov.UK/Advice-Benefits."

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Manchester to launch:- 'Little Play Squad!'

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Manchester are proud to announce the launch of:- 'Little Play Squad,' designed to teach pre-School children new skills through exciting and meaningful fun filled programmes. LEGOLAND Discovery Centre has worked in conjunction with education and wellbeing experts, to produce fun activities specifically designed for parents and their children aged 2 to 5. The programme allows children and their primary caregivers to interact with a range of wellbeing and mindfulness activities Launching on Monday, 13 September 2021, the new activities will be running during term time Monday to Friday, between 11am to 2pm, the sessions have been developed in collaboration with LEGO education and with the help of trained teachers and child mindfulness ambassadors. Each month, the interactive parent child play sessions will be themed around different topics, from family picnics to farmyards, snowy days to dinosaurs. Research has proven that play is 1 of the most significant factors in a child's development, not only improving social skills, but in helping to evolve emotional growth before they begin their School journey.

The sessions will encourage children to listen, learn and laugh, whilst focusing on improving children's social and cognitive development in a fun and welcoming environment. Interactive playtime can be a fantastic way to help young children understand their emotions and how to manage them. Through the:- 'Little Play Squad,' children will develop self confidence, motivation, and self awareness.  The sessions will also inspire kids to be creative and push their imagination to the limits, giving them a new sense of adventure and a platform to share their ideas in a group environment.  Each topic develops different skills from an extensive learning syllabus, based on National Institute of Play and aligned with the global standardised curriculum (as featured in Early Years Curriculum and Head Start amongst others). Included in the learning's are different STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths), communication and social skills; creativity and problem solving. The sessions will also include mindfulness techniques that support children's emotional wellbeing.

Jenn McDonough, General Manager at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Manchester said:- "Little Play Squad was created to highlight just how important parent child play is. With the help of experts in the field we wanted to create an area to help parents to bond and teach their pre-Schoolers important foundation skills in an engaging, fun and interactive way with the use of LEGO® DUPLO® toys that families already know and love. Mindfulness for children has always been important yet given the tough times of the past 18 months it's something that needs recognising even more. We are very pleased to be able to bring Little Play Squad to our community."

Suzy Hutchins, LEGOLAND's Global Education and Wellness Ambassador, who has helped to create the programme, said:- "It is my strong belief that the earlier on in our children's lives that we can nurture their emotional intelligence and self awareness the better. Teaching young children mindfulness techniques such as the ability to be fully present in the moment; improving their attention, and to be aware of their thoughts and feelings in a positive way is a steppingstone to better practices throughout their lives. Through our programme not only will they develop key skills but also basic mindfulness tools to help access life in a fun, calm and curious way."

The newly launched Little Play Squad sessions are available to book now, prices are ₤15 for 1 session (1 x adult and 1 x toddler), or you can purchase a ₤30 package, which allows you to attend 3 sessions over 3 months. Head to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Manchester's website here for more information:- LegolAndDiscoveryCentre.Com

Bill Esterson MP Comments on New Report on Regional Inequality

BILL Esterson, MP for Sefton Central, has commented on a new report on Regional inequality published by the Northern Health Science Alliance. The report, which used statistics to show how the North East, North West, and Yorkshire and the Humber compared to the rest of England, revealed that people in the North of England were more likely to die from Covid19, spent nearly a month and a ˝ more in lockdowns, suffered worse mental health and were made poorer than the rest of England during the 1st year of the Pandemic.

The findings included:-

People in the North had a 17% higher mortality rate.

Care Home mortality was 24% higher in the North.

Compared to the rest of England, 10% more Hospital beds were occupied by Covid patients.

People in the North spent an average of 41 more days in lockdown.

Wages fell in the North, while rising in the rest of the country.

The unemployment rate in the North was 19% higher than the rest of England

The North had a larger drop in mental wellbeing and a greater rise in antidepressant prescriptions.

Commenting on the report, Bill Esterson MP said:- "Today's report from the Northern Health Science Alliance is incredibly worrying. It shows people living in constituencies like Sefton Central are more likely to die from Covid19, spent longer in lockdowns and were made poorer than the rest of England. But the truth is that the North has been neglected long before the Covid19 Pandemic hit. Years of Conservative neglect meant that when the Pandemic did hit, we were far less prepared. The Chancellor Rishi Sunak promised Councils would have their Covid19 funding covered by the Government in full. But that simply hasn't happened. This was clear not lEast when the Government refused to fund furlough payment for Northern cities during the lockdown. In Sefton itself, we have had problems with funding flood defences, a road being built through a much loved country park and the worst record for getting a face to face GP appointment in the country. This all goes back to inequalities and the way local funding is sorted."

Today's report was published by the Northern Health Science Alliance and can be found online, on:- TheNHSA.Co.UK.

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