Low wages and rising child poverty ‘sad legacy’ of Welsh Labour Govt, say Tories
A report that said more than a third of children in Wales are living in poverty, is the “sad legacy” of Welsh Labour Government, Welsh Conservatives have said.
The Audit Office said more than a third of children in Wales are now classed as living in poverty, and has called for renewed focus across every level of government in Wales to address the issue.
The report includes a key recommendation for a new national strategy and targets to tackle poverty.
The investigation by the auditor general for Wales said that dealing with poverty remains a priority for Welsh government and local councils, but said that different approaches and “complicated” working environments meant “ambitions, focus, actions and prioritisation vary widely”.
Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies MS said: “This is the sad legacy of 25 years of successive Labour Governments, low wages and rising rates of child poverty.
“The Audit Office has made it clear that this is the responsibility of the Labour Government, so Labour ministers need to stop trying to avoid taking responsibility and own up to their failures.
“Labour should stop wasting their energy on bringing in more Senedd Members and constitutional navel gazing, and instead focus on boosting Welsh jobs and supporting the most vulnerable across Wales.”
Sioned Williams MS, Plaid Cymru’s Spokesperson for Social Justice and Equalities took a somewhat different to the Welsh Tories: “The deficiencies, disparities and during the last decade of Tory Westminster rule, downright cruelty which characterises the UK Welfare system, has caused hardship for tens of thousands of Welsh people and has seen the Welsh Government forced to step in to support low-income families where Westminster has failed Wales.
“Plaid Cymru have long campaigned for the devolution of the administration of Welfare to Wales and we are glad to be moving forward on this through our Co-Operation Agreement with the Welsh Government.
“But while we wait for progress on that ambition, the support available from Welsh coffers has rightly been fast multiplying and thus evolving into a whole patchwork of payments which are mainly, but not solely delivered by Local Authorities.
“The payments are sometimes means tested and sometimes linked to certain benefits, with eligibility conditions varying, forms and regularity of payment differing and modes of application mainly separate and often complicated.
“I was very glad that my proposal was passed by the Senedd last week and I call on the Welsh Government to act urgently to increase take up of Welsh and local authority support by requiring public bodies to streamline and make consistent the method of application for such benefits, especially given the recommendations of the Auditor General for Wales’ report.
“It’s crucial that every penny of support available in Wales reaches the pockets of those who need it as easily and quickly as possible.”
The Welsh Government said it will carefully consider the findings of the Audit Report, the BBC has reported.
“We are doing everything we can to tackle poverty and help people through the very difficult cost of living crisis by providing targeted support to those who need it most and through universal programmes which put money back in people’s pockets,” said a Welsh government official.
“However, we won’t be able to protect everyone given the size and scale of the financial problems caused by the UK government’s mishandling of the public finances.”
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