IN a scathing critique of the Welsh Government’s handling of child poverty, a Senedd Committee has issued a damning report, labelling the situation as a ’cause for national shame’. Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Conservatives have united their voices, urging the Labour-run Welsh Government to take bold and decisive action to address the issue that affects more than a quarter of children in Wales.
The report, titled Calling Time on child poverty: how Wales can do better, released today by the Senedd’s Equality and Social Justice Committee, reveals a stark reality: 28% of all children in Wales are living in relative income poverty. This alarming statistic translates to eight children in every classroom of 30, struggling to make ends meet in one of the most economically challenged regions of the United Kingdom.
Sioned Williams MS, Plaid Cymru’s Social Justice spokesperson, did not mince her words, declaring the situation a ’cause for national shame’. She emphasised that eradicating child poverty should be a top priority for the Labour Welsh Government, criticising their lack of clear plans and ambition to tackle the issue effectively. Williams urged for the establishment of a dedicated Minister for Babies, Children, and Young People to spearhead a coherent response to this pressing problem.
“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,” remarked Williams, highlighting the urgency of the matter.
The report specifically calls for a comprehensive review of the Welsh Government’s approach and underlines the necessity of a dedicated Ministry for Babies, Children, and Young People. Plaid Cymru has been vocal about their concerns, praising their successful efforts in securing free school meals for all primary school children in Wales. However, Williams stressed the importance of extending this initiative to secondary school pupils from families on Universal Credit, a proposal that had been previously rejected by the Labour Welsh Government.
Mark Isherwood MS, the Welsh Conservative Shadow Social Justice Minister, echoed these concerns, placing the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the Labour Government. He criticised the lack of ambition, clarity, and detail in their plans to tackle child poverty. “They need a drastic shift in focus on child poverty with a coherent, robust strategy, one which specifically spells out what, how, where, when, and who will actually deliver,” urged Isherwood, highlighting the need for concrete and accountable measures.
The Children’s Commissioner for Wales had previously expressed similar sentiments, emphasising the Labour Government’s lack of ambition and clarity in their efforts to combat child poverty in the region.
As the debate rages on in the Senedd, the future of thousands of young lives hangs in the balance. Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Conservatives have sounded the alarm, urging the Labour-run Welsh Government to act swiftly and decisively. The eyes of Wales are now fixed on the corridors of power, awaiting a response that will shape the future of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens.