The Healthier, Wealthier Children (HWC) projectHWC

Launched in November 2010, Healthier, Wealthier Children (HWC) is a continuing partnership approach to tackle child poverty across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC). A central project aim was to develop new ways of providing money/welfare advice services across NHSGGC to help pregnant women and families with children at risk of, or experiencing, poverty. An important aspect involved setting up referral links between health and advice services with a view towards embedding this child poverty partnership response into service delivery.

Between 2010 and 2013 the GCPH undertook a range of work to support the HWC project. This included a review of the literature, a comprehensive evaluation report and a follow-up evaluation report with a focus on the project’s sustainability. 

HWC continues to operate across NHSGGC and achieve significant outcomes.

A review of HWC in 2018 explored how the project is operating at present across NHSGGC seven years after it began in 2010, and five years post full Scottish Government, and NHSGGC, funding. The review was timely as it examined how HWC has been resourced and sustained since the end of dedicated project funding.  

The review found that, in all Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs) across NHSGGC, HWC referrals were incorporated into wider financial inclusion (FI) work and structures with varying levels of funding and staff support. Some areas were more successful in attracting inward project investment, which was important in promoting and maintaining the referral pathways.

In terms of sustainability factors, HWC showed strong performance (‘green’ traffic light) for monitoring, public health impacts and political support. Political support at a local level, and centrally in NHSGGC, means that partners are working together to ensure ongoing monitoring of referrals to provide evidence of impacts on families. 

Many aspects of HWC were more precarious and were rated with an ‘amber’ traffic light, mainly due to challenges of budget cuts which were having an impact on local capacity at health, council and third sector levels. In terms of strategic planning, while a strategic overview of HWC has been maintained in NHSGGC, planning and direction-setting do not take place at strategic level. 

One major area of concern, raised by most respondents, was funding stability, which was rated with a ‘red’ traffic light for sustainability. 

A number of learning points, of relevance to the Child Poverty Delivery Plan emerged from this review, for example: 

  • At the outset, the system-wide nature of HWC ensured consistency in the approach adopted. It could be argued that, from 2013 onwards, there appears to have been a move towards localism, which resulted in varying degrees of prioritisation and delivery. The requirement on the six local authorities and NHSGGC to jointly prepare annual child poverty action reports could be a key opportunity to re-invigorate and strengthen efforts to ensure a consistent approach to HWC delivery. 
  • While the Scottish Government allocation of £500,000 over two years across Scotland is to be welcomed, it remains to be seen how NHSGGC could move the HWC ‘red’ traffic light for funding stability towards ‘green’ in the context of rising child poverty levels and limited resources. 

This review provided timely learning and insights into how the HWC project has developed and been maintained during a period of ongoing economic austerity and significant welfare changes. With child poverty rates expected to rise, the review was a useful resource to inform the Scottish Government’s aim of extending HWC delivery across Scotland.

Resources

In 2016, a briefing paper by the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships identified negative links between financial vulnerability, maternal emotional distress and children’s wellbeing. The briefing paper also used HWC as a case study example of a ‘pockets’ approach to address financial vulnerability which if extended across Scotland could support national work, such as the Early Years Collaborative, a multi-agency programme to improve outcomes for children and families. A range of resources developed by the project staff are available on the HWC project website

You can also read related blogs on the project.

Related topic: Money and work