Poverty strategy needed for Wales, says Assembly committee
The Welsh Government should set out a poverty strategy for Wales according to a National Assembly committee.
The Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee reiterates its stance in a new report on Communities First, the Welsh Government’s flagship anti-poverty scheme which is being wound down.
Some 700,000 people, almost a quarter of our population are living in poverty in Wales, including 30 per cent of all children - the highest proportion of any UK nation.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimates £3.6 billion pounds annually is spent in Wales on dealing with the social consequences of poverty – the equivalent of £1150 for every person living here.
The Welsh Government rejected the Committee’s recommendation of a poverty strategy claiming the problem was cross-cutting and should be considered by all departments.
The Committee was disappointed with the broad brush response which lacked any real detail.
“The figures around poverty in Wales are stark and become more forceful when you stop thinking of them as figures and start thinking of them as people,” said John Griffiths AM, Chair of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee.
“Poverty has not gone away with the decision to end Communities First. This committee is clear that there needs to be a detailed poverty strategy to help those people who are struggling in Wales.
“We are not convinced by the Welsh Government’s view that a cross-cutting approach which makes it the responsibility of each of its departments renders a strategy inappropriate.
“We intend to consider the various issues and policies surrounding poverty during the course of this Assembly to monitor the government’s progress.”
The Committee’s previous report on Communities First called for councils to identify all programmes currently being delivered by Communities First that should be delivered by other public services and ensure that they are transferred across to the relevant public service as soon as possible.
It also found it was difficult to make an overall assessment of the success of the fifteen year, £432 million Communities First tackling poverty programme because of insufficient performance management.