Research has found that Wales has the highest proportion of children in poverty in the UK, with 15% of children living in a home making less than £12,220 a year
Research commissioned by Save the Children has found that Wales has the highest proportion of children in poverty of any country in the UK, with 15 per cent of children across Wales living in a household making less than £12,220 a year – the official definition of poverty.
The report further found that the proportion of children who lived in poverty was 13% in England, 10% in Northern Ireland and 9% in Scotland in 2007/08. The research also highlighted that across the UK as a whole, the proportion of children in poverty has risen from 11% in 2004/05 to 13% in 2007/08.
Commenting on Wales’s position, Andrew Chalinder of Save the Children Wales said:
“[While] child poverty in Wales reduced over the first half of the last decade faster than any other part of the UK, that trend was reversed and now child poverty in Wales has risen to 32%, with almost half of those children living in severe poverty.”
The Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan simply described the findings as “astonishing and shameful”, while Sean O’Neil of the Cardiff based charity Children in Wales concluded that the recession had had a bigger impact on families than first thought, saying:
“It has been a bigger issue and a worse issue than we could have ever imagined at the beginning of the recession. We’ve got a new group of people that are finding themselves out of work, perhaps for the first time, and finding it difficult to get back into work.”
And a spokesperson for the Welsh Assembly Government said:
“Supporting the eradication of child poverty and improving the life chances of our children and young people is at the top of our list of priorities.”
During the recent elections for leader of the Labour Party in Wales, the new First Minister, Carwyn Jones, described Child Poverty as “the scourge of too many of our communities”.
Furthermore, one of Mr Jones’s rivals in the campaign, Huw Lewis, who now holds the post of Deputy Minister for Children, pledged to establish a Child Poverty Unit to help drive forward policy to combat child poverty.
Whilst welcoming the Government’s pledge to eradicated child poverty by 2020, Save the Children warn “that this goal will not be achieved unless urgent attention is given to meeting the needs of the poorest children and their families”.
To that extent, the report recommends the following action to address the problem of child poverty:
• Removing barriers to parental employment through improved access to childcare, providing greater support to parents wanting to enter part time employment and providing greater opportunities for parents to upskill and gain vital training and qualifications;
• Ensuring that any changes made to the tax and benefit system as public sector finances become squeezed, post-recession, do not adversely affect the poorest in society;
• Reforming the tax and benefits system to ensure it works better for the poorest families;
• Ending the poverty premium and making sure the poorest do not pay more for goods and services by supporting families with the cost of fuel and to avoid crippling high-interest debt; and
• Breaking the link between poverty and educational achievement to ensure every child can access high quality education with the needed support both at home and in the classroom.
Save the Children are running a petition calling on the Government to ensure children don’t become the victims of the country’s debt problem.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.