Child poverty: Welsh government urged to overhaul strategy

The Welsh government has been urged to radically revamp its child poverty strategy following the news that the number of children living in poverty in Wales has increased since 2005.

According to a report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, around 192,000 children in Wales now live in poverty, accounting for nearly a third of the child population. Around 60% of this group live in a household where neither parent has a job and 42% live in a lone-parent household.

Prior to 2005 levels of child poverty had been falling at a faster rate than the rest of the UK. In January this year, the Welsh government pledged to update its 2005 child poverty strategy, A fair future for our children, during this year.

‘Dramatically improve childcare’

The JRF report said that the Welsh government needed to dramatically improve childcare provision, help parents find work and promote benefits take-up and flexible employment if it was to meet the 2020 target to eradicate child poverty.

It said there was currently one registered childcare place for every 7.3 children in Wales, compared with one for every 5.7 children in England, while the growth in the number of places from 2000-5 had stalled.

Report author Victoria Winckler called for a “clearer, more coherent and up-to-date” approach in tackling child poverty.

Crucial role for assembly government

She said: “Many of the changes required to completely eradicate child poverty across the UK will need to be made by the UK government, but the assembly government still has a crucial role to play in combating child poverty in Wales.

“While there are a number of commendable approaches already in place which are helping to make a difference – such as free school meals, school uniform grants and educational maintenance allowances – much greater action is needed to reduce child poverty now.”

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