THE First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford has said that he has urged the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer to continue with the additional £20 payment for Universal Credits. The First Minister said that he also asked both during a recent meeting to ensure a n investment led recovery addressed the inequalities we have seen during the pandemic.
Speaking at his press conference today, Friday (Jun 4) the First Minister responded to our questions on poverty suffered by unpaid carers and children in Wales.
We asked the First Minister who has championed holidaying in Wales what if anything can and will the Welsh Government do to support unpaid carers who are suffering poor mental and physical health as a result of caring for others around the clock and being unable to afford a break. Six charities concerned with their plight have urged the First Minister to ensure unpaid carers get a break.
He replied: “Our (Welsh Labour) manifesto made specific commitments to respite care and additional investments in it. Early next week Julie Morgan will be making some announcements as to how we will take forward those as part of carer’s week.”
Sticking with the theme of poverty we pointed out that one in three, or 200,000, children in Wales are in poverty with 90,000 living in severe poverty
More than half of Welsh children in low-income families are worried their parents are finding it harder to pay for everyday necessities such as food, heating and clothes.
A quarter of parents living on low incomes in Wales report frequently skipping meals, and feel they have nothing else left to cut back on.
A fifth of Welsh parents on low incomes say stress about money affects their relationship with their children.
Rising living costs, high unemployment, cuts in public spending and benefit changes and the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic are all set to make the position worse in the years immediately ahead.
We asked the First Minister if during his term in office he would address this catastrophic legacy. We also asked what hope he could give to the poorest children of Wales.
The First Minister responded by saying: “Child poverty across the United Kingdom remains a scandal in a country which is one of the richest countries on the face of the globe. As I have said many times when I have been answering questions of this sort.
“The story during Devolution is a story of two halves. The first decade of devolution with a Labour government in Westminster we saw falls in child poverty across the United Kingdom and some of the sharpest falls happened here in Wales. In the second decade of devolution with austerity policies pursued at Westminster we have seen those numbers go into reverse and rise again.
“I took the opportunity yesterday in a meeting with the Prime Minister where the Chancellor of the Exchequer was also present to press the UK government not to cut the £20 extra to Universal Credit that was introduced as part of the pandemic. There are many many families in Wales where children rely on that £20 for the basic things you identified in your question.
“At the moment the UK government provides no guarantee about that £20 beyond the end of September. It is high time they gave those families the comfort and the confidence of knowing that they are not going to have to manage on even less money to deal with all the things that you spoke about in the question.
“I also took the opportunity to say to the Chancellor of the Exchequer who talked in the meeting about an investment led recovery, that that investment led recovery has to be one that deals with the inequalities in the United Kingdom that were sharply exposed by the Coronavirus experience and that it will not be a proper recovery if we don’t build back fairer. We will wait to see whether those points were firmly understood by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor.”