Plaid Cymru Llanelli candidate Helen Mary Jones has called for the introduction of a “new Child Poverty Action Plan” to help end child poverty in Wales.
Helen Mary Jones criticised what she described as “mis-management of the economy by parties at Westminster” and the Welsh Government’s apparent inability to put a stop to child poverty in Wales.
Around 200,000 children in Wales will be living in poverty this Christmas, in households earning less than 60% of the national median average after housing costs.
Jones said: “It doesn’t have to be like this. Around two hundred thousand children in Wales will be in poverty this Christmas. That’s one in three children in Wales, compared to one in five in Scotland.
“Neither figure is acceptable, because children should not be in poverty at all.
“But the aim to end child poverty by 2020 is increasingly unlikely to be met – partly because of mis-management of the economy by parties at Westminster, and partly because the government here has failed to effectively deal with the issues here in Wales that can stop child poverty.”
In June this year the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Sally Holland, warned that “too many children in Wales are being denied a decent childhood due to the crippling effects of child poverty”.
The Commissioner’s warning came as all four UK Children’s Commissioners published a joint report which urged the UK Government and devolved governments to make tackling child poverty “a key focus as a matter of urgency”.
The report added that “children’s rights to social security and to an adequate standard of living should be fulfilled by the welfare system”, and said “children and their families should be protected from welfare cuts”.
Commissioners also voiced concerns over the state of mental health services, child sexual abuse, children in the justice system, the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and repealing the Human Rights Act.
Commenting on the report, Sally Holland said: “Although [the] Welsh Government has a clear anti-poverty strategy with some promising programmes for children, including Flying Start and Families First, these have so far failed to make an impact on overall rates of poverty.
“This may be related to the problems of scale and that these programmes do not reach enough children in Wales.”
She added: “Whilst the UK Government’s austerity measures have halted the decline in child poverty and around 200,000 children in Wales continue to live in poverty, I remain convinced that the Welsh Government and local government have some levers to change things.
“The approach taken by the Welsh Government places a central emphasis on securing employment as a route out of poverty but there is also an urgent need to address in-work poverty.
“Many families are struggling with a combination of low wages and high childcare, housing and heating costs.
“Wales now has more low income working families living in poverty than there are non-working ones. Welsh Government urgently needs to intensify its efforts to tackle child poverty.”
Helen Mary Jones added: “A Plaid Cymru Welsh Government would introduce a new child poverty action plan, as supported by the Children’s Commissioner in her recent annual report, that would set out how we will better aim to meet those targets.
“We are concerned that children’s voices will not be properly heard as we move towards the 2020 target and that an all-age approach to well-being will actually mean that the voices of these children and future generations will not be properly heard by policy makers at national and local levels.”