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  1. ITV Report

Wales’ progress in tackling poverty is ‘disappointing’

A Welsh think tank has described the progress made in reducing poverty in Wales as 'disappointing'.

Credit: Jan Haas/DPA/PA Images

The Bevan Foundation found that nearly a quarter of Wales' population live in a household with an income of less than 60% of the average, a proportion that is one of the highest in the UK.

The think-tank also found that there's been a decrease in the proportion of children living in poverty, down to 29% of children. However, there has been a surprising increase in the proportion of pensioners on low incomes, up to 17%.

The latest figures are very disappointing. That around 700,000 people - many of them in work - are struggling to make ends meet suggests that UK and Welsh Government policies aren't working.

Even worse, reducing poverty seems to have fallen off the current Welsh Government's agenda, with few references to it in Welsh Labour's manifesto and the post of tackling poverty Minister disappearing. We need a change of approach - focusing on getting people into work is not tackling the underlying problem that too many households do not have enough to live on. There needs to be a real push to improve the pay and conditions of a lot jobs in Wales, and ensure people can be upskilled throughout their working lives.

– Dr Victoria Winckler, Bevan Foundation Director

The Welsh Government says tackling poverty in Wales is one of its top priorities:

We are committed to a prosperous and equal Wales.

Wales has the fastest growing rate of employment in the UK along with the sharpest declining rate of unemployment over the last 12 months.

We are working hard to identify ways we can increase prosperity for people in Wales and help people out of poverty. Job creation, closing the education attainment gap and improving skill levels are top priorities for this Government and represent the most effective levers at our disposal to tackle poverty in Wales. We are also continuing to invest in the early years of a child's life as evidence tells us this is where we can have most impact in terms of improving health, education and other outcomes later in life.

– A Welsh Government spokesperson

This new report by the Bevan Foundation casts a damning judgement on the Labour Welsh Government's abject failure to tackle poverty in Wales.

While it is welcome to see a small drop in child poverty from 33% to 29% between 2012 and 2016, this still means that nearly one in three children in Wales are living below the breadline.

What is needed now is a Welsh approach to the social and economic challenges facing our nation.

This includes the transfer of control over major social security powers from Westminster to Wales, alongside a comprehensive package of economic levers that would allow us to address our low-wage economy - the driving force behind in-work poverty.

– Steffan Lewis AM, Plaid Cymru