New report warns of post-Brexit risks to Wales’ health & well-being
Shocking evidence of inequality in Welsh society forms the basis of a new report highlighting risks to health and well-being in a post-pandemic, post-Brexit Wales.
Public Health Wales published the report this week which details the importance of understanding how Brexit will impact those living in, or at risk of poverty.
The report draws together some devastating evidence on the effect of social and economic hardship on Welsh people, including the fact that Wales has one of the highest in-work poverty rates in the UK, with one in seven workers living below the breadline.
It found that around 180,000 children are living in poorer households in Wales, with seven in ten children living in working households which are experiencing relative income poverty, and more than a quarter of Welsh households did not have enough savings to cover their regular income for just one month.
The report, “Brexit and poverty in Wales: A public health lens,” warns that individuals and families who are on a low-income, unemployed, or those with little in the way of savings or financial resilience, are at greatest risk.
It focuses on five key areas where people will most likely feel the effects of Brexit, including employment and skills, public services, and food security.
While there maybe increased employment opportunities in some sectors for younger people due to changes in the workforce, Brexit could impact other sectors and businesses which have been less affected by the pandemic.
The changes to immigration rules may impact staffing levels in health and social care adding long term pressure to the vital support mechanisms for the most disadvantaged communities.
Supply chain difficulties and any increase in the price of food will hit those on lower incomes the most and affect their ability to buy good quality, nutritional food.
In addition to individual financial concerns caused by job insecurity or fluctuating income, the loss of EU structural funding could significantly impact some communities and vulnerable groups in Wales.
There is ongoing uncertainty about whether the UK Levelling Up Fund or the Shared Prosperity Fund will match previous investment in some parts of Wales.
Dr Sumina Azam, Consultant in Public Health, at Public Health Wales, said:
“The purpose of this report is to identify the potential risks and opportunities, and identify actions to help Wales prepare for, and respond to the impacts of Brexit and future trade agreements.
“This should be seen as our opportunity to address inequalities in health and wellbeing in Wales and work towards creating a fairer society for all.
“For example, it’s important we identify communities who are most affected by loss of EU funding and target future funding at those most impacted and strengthen our understanding of the links between trade and health, so that we better understand what the effects of future trade agreements will be for our communities.
“We can also work to enhance the role of our public services, which support our most vulnerable communities and populations, and have a key role in supporting the wider community in which they are based, through the employment of local staff, or through contributing to the local economy.”