As a Senedd Committee criticises previous mishandling of child poverty in Wales, Plaid Cymru and Welsh Concervatives call on the Labour-run Welsh Government to take bolder action.
Sioned Williams MS, Plaid Cymru’s Social Justice spokesperson, has said that the vast number of children living in Poverty in Wales a ‘cause for national shame’.
A damning Senedd Committee report says the Welsh Government has no clear plan or ambition to tackle the problem blighting more than a quarter of children in Wales and has called for a dedicated Minister for Babies, Children and Young People to ‘provide a more coherent response to the scourge of child poverty’.
The latest figures show 28% of all children in Wales are living in relative income poverty. That is eight children in a class of 30.
Today, the Senedd’s Equality and Social Justice Committee calls for a dedicated Minister for Babies, Children and Young People. The Committee’s report, Calling Time on child poverty: how Wales can do better recommends a root and branch review of the Welsh Government's approach as it finalises its new child poverty strategy.
Ms Williams said that eradicating Child Poverty should be a priority for the Labour Welsh Government, but pointed to the scrapping of targets when they are not reached. The Plaid Cymru MS also praised the good work that Plaid Cymru has achieved in securing free school meals for all primary school children in Wales, saving families with young children thousands of pounds, and called for the Welsh Government to extend this for secondary school pupils in families on Universal credit. This is something that has been previously rejected by the Labour Welsh Government.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Social Justice Minister, Mark Isherwood MS said:
“Labour have been directly responsible for tackling poverty in Wales over the last 25 years, but this report highlights their sheer failure in doing so. They cannot blame the UK Government for all of the problems facing Wales, problems they themselves have the powers to deal with.
“The Children's Commissioner for Wales has previously strongly criticised the Labour Government's plans to tackle child poverty in Wales, stating they lacked ‘ambition, clarity and detail’.
“This typifies the Labour Government, who will talk the talk, but won’t walk the walk. They need a drastic shift in focus on child poverty with a coherent, robust strategy, one which specifically spells out what, how, where, when and who will actually deliver. Otherwise, they will continue to fail the children of Wales, as they have done for the past 25 years.”
Sioned Williams MS, Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for Social Justice and Social Services, said:
“Eradicating child poverty in Wales should be at the forefront of the Labour Welsh Government’s work, but over the years we’ve seen them miss targets to tackle child poverty and then scrap these targets altogether.
“I’m glad that free school meals are being provided for all primary school children because of Plaid Cymru’s agreement with the Welsh Government – this is making a real difference. But the Welsh Government should be doing more. They must look at expanding free school meals to all secondary school children from households claiming Universal Credit, and they must look at direct child payments paid to families which has been shown to be one of the most effective ways of reducing child poverty. These are solutions that Plaid Cymru has called for time and time again.
“The Labour Welsh Government must take bolder action to ensure the future of our young people, and therefore the future of our nation, gets the urgent attention it deserves, and establishing a Government Ministry whose sole purpose is to eradicate child poverty would provide focus and accountability.