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Welsh Government is committed to eradicating child poverty

child povertyTHE WELSH GOVERNMENT remains committed to eradicating child poverty, the Deputy Minister for Tackling Poverty Vaughan Gething said last week as a new report on the issue in Wales was released.

Every three years the Welsh Government publishes a progress report on the implementation of its Child Poverty Strategy that was launched in 2011.

The first report highlights:
• The percentage of children living in work-less households has been decreasing since 2009.
• The percentage of working age adults with no qualifications has reduced each year since 2006.
• There has been a small reduction in the education attainment gap between those eligible for free school meals and those not eligible between 2009/10 and 2011/12.

The Welsh Government is taking action on a number of fronts to tackle poverty, including measures to improve the skills of young people in low income households, reducing the number of homes where no one works, raising the educational attainment of those from the poorest backgrounds and investing in services that help children being brought up in deprived communities. Public bodies also have a legal duty to have child poverty strategies in place.

In October the Welsh Government announced an £11 million funding boost for Flying Start that helps children in the most deprived areas of Wales. 23,579 children currently use Flying Start and Ministers want the scheme to cover 36,000 children and their families by 2016.

Vaughan Gething said:
“We published the first Child Poverty Strategy in 2011. Since then we launched a new Tackling Poverty Action Plan that targets resources across the Welsh Government to help those most in need and prevent future generations experiencing poverty.

“Despite the tough financial backdrop, we remain committed to the target of eradicating child poverty by 2020. The target focuses our efforts on making a real difference and reducing the number of children living in poverty in Wales.

“Over the past three years we have made progress, from the number of children living in work-less households falling to the percentage of working adults with no qualifications coming down.

“Despite the progress made significant challenges still remain. Closing the education attainment gap, reducing the link between deprivation and attainment will be vital. Raising levels of attainment will also increase the potential for young people and adults to move into well-paid jobs. This should help to reduce levels of in-work poverty, which have been increasing in recent years. We know that the main levers to tackle in work poverty are within the tax and benefit system. It is an unavoidable truth that recent tax and benefit decisions are having a direct impact on in-work poverty.

“We are under no illusions that we are doing this against a tough backdrop. The impact of the budget cuts has forced the Welsh Government and the whole public sector to re-think ways of working. The recent years of a flat economy, rising living costs and welfare reform are likely to push people further into poverty. However, we are unwavering in our commitment to address child poverty, as shown in the unique actions we are taking.

“We have a clear focus on tackling poverty as a whole government, building on the evidence, evaluation and good practices over the past three years. I believe we are doing more and going further than the UK Government.”