A lack of progress in tackling poverty in Wales is of ‘deep concern’, Assembly Members have warned.
Ministers have treated the symptoms, not the causes, and not been innovative enough, the cross-party communities and equality committee said.
The proportion of people living in relative poverty in Wales – 23% – is the highest in the UK outside London. It has the highest percentage of children living in poverty – one in three – of any nation in the UK. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) forecasts that child poverty in Wales could increase by about a third by 2020.
The report’s findings include:
- Poverty is not declining in Wales as it is in the north east of England or Scotland
- They must listen more to people’s experiences and take into account different needs and circumstances. It calls for ministers to work in a Welsh poverty reduction alliance across business, councils and the voluntary sector.
Dr Sarah Lloyd-Jones, director of the charity People and Work Unit, said the key was a link with an economic development policy which got people into properly paid work – while there was a “glass ceiling” for poor communities.
“We have an approach that says we’ll look at basic skills and structures to help people survive in poverty but we need to be more ambitious,” she said.
“We need to be saying, ‘why aren’t we getting engineers out of this community, why aren’t we getting doctors or chemists?’
“We looked at drawing people together, looking at people as a strength, not just the problem. We worked with the Communities First team and regeneration programmes focusing on how people can get skills and what it takes to create a level playing field.
“We now have a lot of people in sixth form and pursuing qualifications. It’s not all about what we’ve done but part of wider improvement with primary schools doing much, much better than they were.”