New research from the UK End Child Poverty Coalition shows that 30% of Powys children are growing up in poverty, once housing costs are taken into account.
The research carried out by Loughborough University for the Coalition shows a rise in child poverty in the past five years, fuelled by stagnating family incomes, high housing costs and an inadequate benefit system which are combining to push many families to the brink. Faced with these conditions, it is no surprise that three out of four children who live in poverty have at least one working adult in their household.
Through no fault of their own thousands of children in Powys are growing up in poverty. This research is a call to action for Powys County Council and decision makers who need to up their game to help tackle this growing problem. Poverty has a big impact on the lives of children and the County Council has an important role to play in helping to address the impact and support children and families.
I’ve urged Powys County Council to take action to tackle child poverty and I have asked the Leader of the Council to convene a cross party summit with professionals and experts to develop fully costed plans to tackle child poverty. I have also asked the Council Leader to give one of her Cabinet Members responsibility for tackling child poverty to make sure those children and families have a voice at the Cabinet table.
Under the last UK Labour Government one million children were lifted out of poverty but sadly that hard won progress has been eroded since 2010. That is why I am backing calls made by the UK End Child Poverty Coalition which ask the UK Government to recognise the scale of the problem and its impact on children’s lives by creating a credible plan to end child poverty. That must include a commitment to increase child benefits. Given the extent to which families are already struggling, the planned £20 per week cut to Universal Credit in October should be revoked. The support should also be extended to those still receiving financial assistance from the old benefit system, referred to as ‘legacy benefits’, before they are switched to Universal Credit.
It’s good news that in Wales, the new Welsh Government has committed to a pilot of a Universal Basic Income and their early decision to extend the provision of free school meals to every school holiday until Easter 2021 was the right one.
I’ve heard the First Minister say that no one person has a monopoly on good ideas and he’s right. So if we are serious about eradicating child poverty then we must work together, across political parties, organisations and communities to achieve it.
Published in the Brecon and Radnor Express on Wednesday 2nd June 2021.