Commissioner blasts child poverty in Wales as a ‘national disgrace’

The children’s commissioner for Wales has warned that child
poverty in the principality is a national disgrace.

The extent of the problem was highlighted in two recent reports
from the Child Poverty Action Group and Save the Children. These
reveal that more than a third of young people in Wales live in
homes with less than half the average UK income, and that Welsh
children are the poorest in the UK.

In his annual report to the Welsh assembly last week, children’s
commissioner Peter Clarke says: “One-third of all Welsh children
live in poverty. This is a national disgrace, both for Wales and
the UK.”

The report adds:”In Wales, we do not have an assembly anti-poverty
strategy. Although it can be argued that the national assembly does
not have the power over some of the major policy weapons to combat
poverty, this does not mean that there is nothing we can do.”

Clarke’s report continues:”An anti-poverty strategy for children in
Wales should be developed, and it should involve young people
directly. Success in eradicating child poverty would be the biggest
thing we can do to help our children.”

Clarke’s report identifies a crisis in special educational needs,
made worse by difficulties in joint working between education,
health and social services.

The report also highlights the lack of respect that many young
people encounter from adults, and supports the campaign to end the
physical punishment of children in the UK.

“Many people working with children don’t feel respected either,”
the report adds. “We need confident and stable staff teams if we
are to achieve the improvement in children’s lives.”

After the presentation, Clarke said he expected his concerns to be
taken seriously. “I am here for children and I expect to be
listened to and responded to and I am not prepared to be seen as
window dressing. But I am pleasedÉ health and social services
minister Jane Hutt has responded by making what I take to be a
commitment to moving forward to an anti-poverty strategy.”

Hutt said she would respond to the commissioner’s report formally
next year.

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