Posted inUncategorized

More than a third of children in Wales are living in Poverty: Senedd members call for action

Senedd members have called for urgent action amid concerns that more than a third of children in Wales are living in poverty.

Sioned Williams urged the Welsh Government to bring forward a detailed child poverty strategy which contains specific actions and targets.

The Plaid Cymru shadow social justice minister told the Senedd that a third of children in Wales were living in poverty between 2019 and 2022.

“But we regret that these statistics stem from before the current cost-of-living crisis, which means that the true figure for child poverty is likely to be much higher,” she said.

During a debate on the children’s commissioner’s annual report, Ms Williams said two thirds of children aged seven to 11 worry that their families will not have enough money. She added that almost half of children aged seven to 11 are concerned about having enough to eat.

Ms Williams called for Wales to replicate a Scottish scheme for low-income families, which aims to lift children out of poverty through a weekly payment of £25 for each child aged under 16.

Joel James, for the Conservatives, highlighted that £1 billion of child benefit and £2.5bn in child tax credits goes unclaimed each year.

“A considerable amount of this money would be claimable by Welsh families,” he said.

Jayne Bryant, who chairs the Senedd’s children’s committee, said: “A lack of inclusive, accessible education and childcare is having a significant impact on parents and carers’ ability to work.

“This, then, has a significant impact on families’ incomes and wider mental health and wellbeing.”

Laura Anne Jones raised concerns about Wales’ new additional learning needs (ALN) system, backing the commissioner’s calls for mandatory training for teachers. The Conservative shadow minister for education said: “It is vital every child in Wales receives the best education they can, and ALN is not a barrier to them.”

Her Plaid Cymru counterpart, Heledd Fychan, met families who had come from across Wales to protest about ALN outside the Senedd on Friday, October 13.

“But it wasn’t really a protest,” she said. “It was a cry for help—a cry for help by desperate parents, carers, with children and young people there as well, who are being let down by a system that’s simply not working.

“A mother shared quite openly with me and others that she’d considered committing suicide, just so that her child could receive the help that child needs and deserves.”

Labour’s Hefin David focused on the children’s commissioner’s call for Wales gender identity services for children and young people. He highlighted that one of his constituents, Sean Donovan, who was in the public gallery, has been campaigning for NHS Wales to provide a pathway, so young people do not have to use services in England, “which themselves are not sufficient”.

Jane Dodds, for the Lib Dems, was alarmed by a 23% increase in looked-after children in Wales since 2013 – “a rate far exceeding the per capita rate in England”.

In response to the debate on Tuesday October 17, Jane Hutt said the Welsh Government wants a Wales where no child lives in poverty.

The social justice minister told the Senedd: “Despite the extraordinary pressures on our budget – we’ve heard today again – tackling poverty and inequality will remain central drivers in the development of our policies and programmes.”

Ms Hutt said the Welsh Government consulted with more than 3,300 children and young people to develop a revised child poverty strategy.

Plaid Cymru’s amendment was narrowly defeated. With the vote tied at 28-28, the presiding officer – Elin Jones – used her casting vote against the amendment in line with the Senedd’s standing orders.

Posted inNews

More than a third of children in Wales are living in Poverty: Senedd members call for action

a boy holding teddy and against a radiator keeping warm
(Photo by Envato Elements licence)