Wales is the only part of the UK to see an overall increase in the percentage of children in poverty over the past year, that's according to new research by a group of charities.

The UK-wide coalition, End Child Poverty, is warning child poverty is becoming the "new normal" in many parts of Wales.

Figures released by the group suggest that last year 206,173 children in Wales were in poverty. An increase of 1% after housing costs are taken into account.

29.3%

of Wales' child population live in poverty

The charities describe the figures as "deeply concerning" and say they show "poverty is on the rise".

The charity says in many electoral wards over 40% of children are in poverty. Credit: PA

According to the figures, the constituencies in Wales with the highest levels of child poverty are:

  • · Cardiff South and Penarth with 35%

  • · Cynon Valley with 35%

  • · Rhondda with 35%

There are also 14 electoral wards in Wales with 44% or more children living in poverty.

Credit: PA

Children in Wales, one of the groups involved in the coalition, described child poverty as having "serious consequences" for children in Wales.

Yet again we are presented with more damning evidence that child poverty in Wales remains stubbornly high with serious consequences for their life chances as more families struggle just to get by. In far too many parts of Wales, growing up in poverty is no longer the exception with more children expected to get swept up in poverty in the coming years. Growing up in poverty restricts a child’s chances of doing well at school, of living a healthy and happy life, and of finding well paid work as adults.

Sean O’Neill, Children in Wales

The charity coalition is calling on the Welsh Government to produce a new Child Poverty strategy and action plan. It's also said the UK Government should set out an "ambitious and credible" child poverty-reduction strategy.

The group suggests this includes:

  • Restoring the link between benefits (including housing support) and inflation

  • Ending the two-child limit on child allowances in tax credits and Universal Credit and reforming Universal Credit.

  • Reversing the cuts and investing in children’s services such as mental health, education, childcare and social care.

Responding to the calls, a UK Government spokesperson said the study is "based on estimates rather than actual measurements of income".

But added: "We recognise some families need more support. That is why we continue to spend £95 billion a year on working-age benefits and provide free school meals to more than one million of the country’s most disadvantaged children to ensure every child has the best start in life".

Child poverty is highest in cities and towns in south Wales and north Wales according to the figures. Credit: PA

A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said the report is "not surprising" and added:

"We will continue to call on the UK Government to halt the roll out of these damaging policies and address the fundamental flaws within Universal Credit".

We are taking practical steps to tackle poverty by helping people keep money in their pockets, including initiatives to help people to pay their council tax and free school meals for children in low income households.

Welsh Government spokesperson

Researchers at Loughborough University analysing the figures suggested it shows child poverty is rising in rural areas of north, mid and west Wales as well as industrial towns and cities in south Wales.

Read more: Child poverty risks reaching 20-year high – think tank