Charities ‘deeply disappointed’ over Welsh Government’s plans to tackle child poverty

Children’s charities in Wales said they are “deeply disappointed” at plans by the Welsh Government to tackle child poverty.

The Welsh Government said it wants to “tackle the harmful effects of living in poverty and improve opportunities for children living in poverty.” However, the charities, which include Oxfam Cymru, NSPCC Wales, and NYAS Cymru, said this new strategy does not provide any accountability.

In a statement released today jointly with the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, they said the government has not listened to calls for a “robust action plan with measurable targets”.

The statement said: “The government needs to “develop or strengthen existing policies, with clear targets, measurable indicators and robust monitoring and accountability mechanisms, to end child poverty and ensure that all children have an adequate standard of living.” 

The Child Poverty Strategy includes the Welsh Benefits Charter, which has been signed by 22 local authorities, and aims to “improve access to financial support across Wales.”

In this charter, it outlines a desire to ensure people in Wales are able to collect the benefits they’re entitled to in an easier manner. The Welsh Government says this will thereby help reduce child poverty in the nation.

It also sets out five long-term objectives to lower child poverty rates in Wales:

  • To lower costs and increase the incomes of families.
  • To help support child and family wellbeing and make sure the Welsh Government deliver its child poverty objectives.
  • To make people and services treat children, young people, and their families are treated with dignity and respect when they’re accessing support, and to challenge the stigma of poverty.
  • To help people out of poverty so children, young people, and their families are able to make the most of opportunities to realise their potential.
  • To create a collaborative atmosphere at the national level working in order to enable strong collaboration at the regional and local levels of government.

This comes as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation released a report saying 28% of children in Wales are living in poverty, with the highest rates being in Blaenau Gwent (30%), Ceredigion (30%), and Merthyr Tydfil (29%).

It also found that only 47% of children receiving free schools meals in the nation achieved A*-C grades at GCSE in 2022 versus 75% of children who do not receive them.

Dr Steffan Evans, the Head of Poverty Policy at the Bevan Foundation spoke to CJS News about the new report and strategy. He explained that the charity wants to see a focus on long-term child poverty solutions in order to break the cycle.

He said: “I think people should absolutely be taking notice of the fact that more than one in four children, nearly one in three, are living in poverty because that means they will struggle more in school, they’ll be less likely to get the best grades and they’re less likely to go on to have better paid jobs in adulthood.

“So, they’re more likely to live in poverty as adults, which is going to have an impact on our health system, it’s going to have an impact on the social care system. We know all of these systems are already in distress.

“Therefore, our failure to invest in long term solutions for child poverty is going to continue to have an impact in the long term on everyone, not just those people living in poverty.”

First Minister, Mark Drakeford said: “We are determined to tackle the harmful effects of poverty and improve opportunities for children.

“Today we are setting out how we can tackle the most pressing challenges, using all the powers we have, especially our ability to bring organisations and partners together to harness their combined ambition and drive.

“The key tax and welfare powers rest with UK Government. We need them to work with us to achieve this ambition of giving every child in Wales every advantage. Tackling child poverty doesn’t just benefit children – it supports every one of us.”

Feature Image Credit: Piron Guillaume, Unsplash