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Ministers shy away from BBC interview on shocking statistics revealing rise in child poverty in Wales

THE Welsh Assembly Government have refused to be interviewed by the BBC over the latest figures on child poverty in Wales, which show an alarming rise in the number of children living in poverty in the Principality.

The news came as no surprise to many in charities dealing with the fall out of the rise, which appears to have no end in sight despite the government’s target of ending child poverty in Wales by 2020.

The numerous political factions were quick to blame one another for what surely must be one of the most shocking indictments of our political establishments.

The SNP MP Tommy Shephard took to twitter to say: “Wales Minister shamefully fails to answer the question this morning. Child poverty rates are too high across the whole of the UK but they’re lower in Scotland thanks to mitigation of worst Tory austerity by Scottish gov.

The issue of poverty per se has led the leader of Plaid Cymru Adam price to say:

Many more people are coming to the conclusion the only sustainable answer to the Welsh problem of endemic poverty is for us to put our faith in ourselves.

Speaking on Chanel 4 News he said: “The issue of Welsh independence has now entered the political mainstream.”

The founding member of Yes Cymru Iestyn ap Rhobert also took to Twitter to call for independence as a way out of poverty. He said:

Wales has had 20 years of an unimaginative Labour Party governing in Cardiff Bay and 9 years of Tories governing Wales from London. Wales has the highest rate of child poverty in the British State and possibly Western Europe. For the sake of sanity, support Welsh independence!

The politicising of the plight of those children in poverty in Wales will continue as party blames party and the Welsh Assembly Government cry Westminster once more. While some are using the shocking statistics to drive political agendas those at the coalface dealing with the effects of poverty on children on a daily basis claim that the Welsh Government has to do more.

In places like Grangetown in Cardiff a stones-throw away from the Senedd they have the highest numbers of children living in poverty in Wales – 2,342 – (for quarter July-Sept 2017) -that’s 46% of children in 2017/18 (along with Butetown the highest proportion in Cardiff).

The charity Children in Wales says that the Welsh Government has work to do if it wants to meet any targets aimed at reducing child poverty. The charity sets out some of the things, which need to be done. They say;

We believe the Welsh Government should:

  • Provide clear and strong leadership on tackling child poverty to ensure all children in Wales are able to reach their full potential, by engaging with the UK Government, public bodies in Wales and with all sectors including employers.
  • Put in place and monitor a specific child poverty delivery plan with ambitious milestones and targets, to drive the implementation of national strategy, which promotes evidenced programmes and services to ensure that no child is disadvantaged in realising their rights under the UNCRC because of family income.
  • Ensure that tackling child poverty remains a priority within new arrangements under the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act and that clear accountability measures are in place.

Statistics out today by the End Child Poverty coalition show that 206,173 children in Wales were in poverty in 2018, or 29.3% of Wales’ child population and a 1% increase on the previous year after housing costs are taken into account.

The charity Children in Wales claim that the powers to change child poverty levels in Wales sit with both Welsh Government and UK Government.

The data gathered by the End Child Poverty coalition highlights how deeply concerning levels of child poverty vary across Britain and shows that poverty is on the rise. Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf faced the highest levels of poverty, with 14 electoral wards facing 44% or over of children living in poverty, including Penrhiwceibar at 49%.

End Child Poverty Network Cymru (ECPN) will be campaigning for Wales’ political parties to commit themselves to ambitious child poverty reduction pledges in the run-up to the 2021 election to the National Assembly for Wales.

Save The Children claims that almost one in three children still lives in poverty in Wales. This is a higher proportion than in any other nation in the UK and equates to almost 200,000 children.

Oxfam Cymru points out that poverty in Wales isn’t about drought, war or starvation – as it can be in developing countries – but it’s every bit as real.
They claim that almost one in four people in Wales lives in poverty which means they get less than 60% of the average wage. They claim that this equates to around 700,000 people and that the level of relative poverty has remained unchanged for a decade.

Outlining some of the problems and some of the solutions being bandied around the charity says: “Poverty can mean having no money in your pocket, your children going to school hungry, or to bed without enough food. It can mean not being able to afford a winter coat, or heat your home. But it can also be about living for years without work or hope, cut off from opportunities and change. And people in poor communities have worse health and shorter life expectancy.

“It used to be said that work was the best route out of poverty, but increasingly it isn’t a route out at all.  Half of Welsh households experiencing poverty have someone bringing home a salary.”

In 2016 the Welsh Government admitted that a target to end child poverty in Wales by 2020 could not be achieved. The then Communities Secretary Carl Sargeant said progress had been made but UK government welfare reforms were hindering Welsh Government ambitions. He said it did not have the power needed to make the significant changes needed to reach the goal.

Image attribution: Julian Nitzsche [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

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