Poverty in Wales and our Cross Party Action on Poverty

Poverty in Wales and our Cross Party action on Poverty

This month marks the first birthday of the National Assembly for Wales’ Cross Party Group on Poverty.  One year since its formation is an important moment to pause and reflect why such a group is necessary in 2019 in Wales. The figures are stark. Wales faces the highest relative poverty rate in the United Kingdom, with almost one in four people living in relative income poverty.

Image: Newsha Tavakolian / Magnum Photos for Oxfam
  • Twenty-five percent of jobs pay below the real Living Wage. Over half of people living in poverty are in work.
  • In 2017-18 Wales was the only UK nation to see a rise in child poverty with an estimated 29.3% of children living in poverty
  • In 2017-18, 98,350 three-day emergency food supplies were provided to people in Wales in crisis by food banks in The Trussell Trust network. Of these, 35,403 went to children.
  • According to the Food Standards Agency a fifth of people in Wales are worried about running out of food and 26% of 16-34 year olds surveyed in Wales ran out of food in the past year.
  • The Food Foundation has shown that 160,000 children in Wales are living in households for whom a healthy diet is increasingly unaffordable.
  • In 2018, childcare in the school holidays cost a family an average of £124.85 a week.
  • In Wales, 39% of disabled people are in poverty.
  • The extra costs of being poor cost the average low income household £490 a year, but for more than one in ten of these households it costs at least £780.23.
  • By 2021-22, it is estimated that 27% of the Welsh population will be living in poverty, and that 39% of children will live in poverty.

Given this bleak picture, Oxfam Cymru is calling for the Welsh Government to create an an overarching tackling poverty strategy.

In order to lead and deliver on this complex agenda, Oxfam Cymru believes a ministerial role for tackling poverty is crucial. This role, which previously had a place at the cabinet table was axed, would enable accountability and scrutiny on Welsh Government action.

On his visit to the UK last year, Professor Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, concluded that the Welsh Government’s approach and new Prosperity for All Strategy, has removed the strategic focus on and the individual Ministerial responsibility for poverty reduction, and lacks clear performance targets and indicators to measure progress and impact. He also found that in-work poverty has grown over the last decade and that low-paid, part-time or insecure jobs are often disproportionately taken up by women, largely due to difficulties in balancing work and caring responsibilities.

Poverty levels in Wales have remained largely unchanged in a decade, and as part of a suite of activity in tackling this, Oxfam Cymru is working with John Griffiths AM, to organise the Cross Party Group on Poverty. The group is made up of interested Assembly Members, and organisations from across civil society, including the voluntary sector, academic institutions and private organisations.

The group provides a useful forum to enable dialogue with Welsh Government on tackling poverty. In the last year, the group has facilitated  dialogue with the First Minister regarding strategy, leadership, vision and budget. The group also tabled an Individual Members Debate in the Senedd on the Welsh Government’s approach to tackling poverty which was selected by the Business Committee.. Assembly Members from across the political spectrum, voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Welsh Government changing its approach. Members voted that Welsh Government should produce a tackling poverty strategy, with a detailed budget and action plan for implementation; that the First Minister should clarify the areas of responsibility for tackling poverty within each Ministerial portfolio and that all areas of policy should be ‘poverty proofed.’

Image: Wales Online

Poverty levels in Wales remain stubbornly high. Urgent action is required now.

Oxfam Cymru strongly recommends the re-instatement of a Ministerial portfolio for tackling poverty and the creation of a clear strategy, including a detailed budget, and direct lines of accountability to specific Ministerial portfolios in order to drive immediate action.

You can help us drive forward these changes.

If you are part of an organisation working on tackling poverty in Wales, get in touch with us at Oxfam Cymru to find out how you can join this campaigning movement via our Cross Party Group on Poverty or our anti-poverty coalition.

If you are an individual, wanting to call on your Assembly Member to do more to tackle poverty in Wales, get in touch with us at Oxfam Cymru to find out how we can support you to call for change.

We won’t live with poverty.

By Claire Cunnliffe, Oxfam Cymru.