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Poverty and financial hardship the ‘new normal’ for thousands of Welsh families

06 Mar 2024 3 minute read
Image: Amin Hasani via Unsplash

Wales’ most influential think-tank, the Bevan Foundation, warns that families struggling to make ends meet has become the new normal in Wales.

New insights gathered by YouGov on behalf of the Bevan Foundation have revealed that families across Wales are still struggling to make ends meet, with one in eight (13 per cent) sometimes, often or always struggling to afford the essentials.

With no sign that the grip of the cost-of-living crisis is easing on Welsh communities, the Bevan Foundation is concerned that higher levels of financial hardship are becoming the “new normal” in Wales.


Speaking on behalf of the Bevan Foundation, Dr Steffan Evans said: “Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, people going hungry or going cold has become normalised in many Welsh communities. The impact of this has been devastating.

“For example, our new data shows 44 per cent of people reporting that their financial position has had a negative impact on their mental health, and 30 per cent reporting the same about their physical health.”

Across Wales more than three in ten people (31 per cent) report that they are going without heating in their home whilst a quarter of people (24 per cent) report that they are eating smaller meals or skipping meals in their entirety as they struggle to manage their finances.

Others have been pushed into debt, with 28 per cent of people borrowing money and 13 per cent being in arrears on a bill.


Families with children under 18 are finding life especially difficult. Not only are 40 per cent of parents of a child under 18 going without heating in their home, but a staggering 22 per cent reported that their child has not had the birthday party they wanted due to their financial position.

Significant minorities of children are also missing out on sports lessons (21 per cent) or music lessons (18 per cent) with the majority of those missing out missing out on a regular basis.

Dr Steffan Evans added:“Accessing activities such as sport or music are fundamental to children’s education and social development as well as for creating happy childhood memories.

“The number of parents reporting that their children are missing out on such activities is worryingly high.

“The fact that so many children are missing out on these activities is likely to have a significant impact on the health and wealth of the people of Wales for years to come.”


The latest Snapshot data shows that people are extremely pessimistic about the future. People were more than twice as likely to think their own personal living standards would worsen over the next 12 months (36 per cent) than improve, (15 per cent).

People were even more pessimistic about the prospects for their community and Wales’ prospects as a nation.

Half of people in Wales (50 per cent) think that living standards will worsen for people in their community over the next 12 months whilst 57 per cent think that living standards will worsen for people living in Wales as a nation.

Reacting to the latest data the Bevan Foundation’s Director, Dr Victoria Winckler, said: “We simply cannot let the levels of poverty and financial hardship outlined in our latest data to become the new normal in Wales.

“It is imperative that poverty remains a key item on everyone’s agenda, and that we take action now to reverse the impact of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis on Welsh communities”.

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Hands up, who thinks Drakeford and Co have served us well ?

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

They’ve probably served us as well as they are able, under the circumstances. That doesn’t mean it’s acceptable, but the problem is wealth inequality which is growing. The problem is the super rich. Gary Stevenson has some interesting ideas, and with his background I think he’s worth listening to.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

As well as a bunch of amateurs led by scheming solicitor politicians and messianic idealists might…

So we are too thick and gullible to lead ourselves safely through the valley of death as the professionals line up like wolves to pick off the weak and simpleminded and fatten up their investment portfolio. We grow our own Carpetbaggers these days…taught by Cardiff Uni…

Sheep and Donkeys are the most maligned creatures under the sun,

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
1 month ago

This contribution may well have readers sighing…oh no, not his hobby horse again…
but it needs to be said and sadly will continue to be said.
The only way to attack poverty is through a dynamic, growing economy. Since it’s inception in 1999 the Senedd has clear and distinctive economic development powers and instruments; we are still waiting for a development plan.
What we’ve had instead is a series of incompetent ministers whose knowledge of economics is wholly non existent (the current one has to be the worst) and as a consequence the people of Wales are suffering.

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
1 month ago

Our politicians are failing us big time. This research is an indictment on their ability to run the country. One person going hungry or homeless or without healthcare is one too many. While the energy companies, the water companies, the banks etc are laughing all the way to the bank people are suffering and politicians are doing nothing to alleviate our poverty. In fact cut cut cut is still the order of the day when it comes to infrastructure. We need a new type of politics and a new type of economic system instead of monetarism. We need to reclaim… Read more »

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