Plaid Cymru blast child poverty in Wales as a ‘national shame’
Plaid Cymru has described child poverty in Wales as a national shame and called on the Welsh Government to take bolder action to help eradicate it.
The comments come following the publication of a report from The Senedd’s Equality and Social Justice Committee which called for a dedicated Minister to ‘provide a more coherent response to the scourge of child poverty.’
The report found that 28% of all children in Wales are living in relative income poverty and recommends a root and branch review of the Welsh Government’s approach as it finalises its new child poverty strategy.
Sioned Williams MS, Plaid Cymru’s Social Justice spokesperson, has said that the vast number of children living in poverty in Wales is a ‘cause for national shame’.
Ms Williams said that eradicating child poverty should be a priority for the Welsh Government, but pointed to the scrapping of targets when they are not reached.
The Plaid Cymru MS also praised the 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 government.
Sioned Williams MS 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.”
Ms Wiilliams added: “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.
“The vast number of children living in poverty in Wales is a cause for national shame. We cannot allow this, and the generational harm it causes, to go on.”
Jenny Rathbone MS, who chairs the Senedd’s Equality and Social Justice Committee committee, said: “There are more children and young people in poverty than any other age group – we need to call time on child poverty.
“Children have no control over their circumstances, the hardship they face is imposed upon them. It is a burning injustice which sits awkwardly with any claim to be a country that promotes fair play.”
The recommendation of a dedicated minister echoes calls from Rocío Cifuentes – the children’s commissioner – who has criticised the draft strategy, saying it lacks ambition.
“Welsh Government must comprehensively revise its draft strategy,” she said. “It does not match the gravity of the situation facing children and young people in Wales today.”
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