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Friday, May 08, 2009

Poverty of achievement

Yesterday's announcement that Wales is in fact going backwards in its ambition to eradicate child poverty is a major blow for the Labour-Plaid Cymru Government but even more so for those families and children who are being condemned to living below the poverty line.

Statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions show that the number of children living in poverty in Wales is the highest of any UK nation – and is rising. After housing costs are taken into account, 32% of children in Wales were in poverty in 2008, defined as living in households with less than 60% of the UK median income.

The figures for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland were 31%, 24% and 26% respectively. A year before, the figure for Wales was 29%. Excluding housing costs, the 2008 figure for Wales was 27%, for England 22%, for Scotland 21% and for Northern Ireland 24%.

As Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader, Kirsty Williams says: “These statistics are a huge blow to the fight against child poverty in Wales and this proves the lack of action and firm commitment from the Labour-Plaid government in tackling this issue. It is unacceptable that the percentage of children living in poverty in Wales has gone back to the levels it was five years ago.

“How has the Scottish Government managed to get more children out of poverty, while this Welsh Government has managed to put more children back into poverty?

“What is even more worrying is that these statistics reflect the situation before the recession hit Wales. I dread to think what the full impact of the recession will have on child poverty. This is more than just a missed target for the Labour-Plaid government. It’s a missed opportunity for thousands of children in Wales. Child poverty is social injustice at its worst.”

On Dragon's Eye last night Helen Mary Jones made the perfectly valid point that the tools needed to achieve a reduction in child poverty are not in the hands of the Welsh Government. That of course has not stopped them taking the credit when it looked like they were making progress.

The UK Government failed to put the resources into achieving this objective and ducked the necessary changes to policy that is required. The Welsh Government too has not fully commited its resources to what is supposed to be a priority.

Ministers will no doubt point to the Family and Children Measure currently going through the Assembly as a sign of their commitment but apart from one or two ideas this amounts to little more than a series of duties for public sector bodies without the money to carry them out. It is an empty nod towards their ambition rather than a full scale tilt.

Ministers in both administrations and of both parties really do need to do better.
lets face it the figures for the whole of the UK are shameful - and among the worst in the so called 'developed' world! That one quarter of uk children live in poverty in the 21st century is a disgrace and every govt in the last 30 years must accept its share of responsibilty for this appaling state of affairs!

The sad fact is the policy of effectively criminalsiig the poor and isolating them from the rest of society that was started under thatcher has been continued by every govt since! Fact is if your poor in britian you are made to feel worthless by the system and told that your to blame for your own poverty! Alas the victorian concept of the 'deserving' and 'undeserving' poor still holds sway in modern britian!

And how has this 'newlabour' govt responded to these figures - by introducing legislation that effectively hounds the unemployed into taking any job, and that will hound the long term ill into taking any job!

Any of us could end up in poverty and there should be a caring sympathetic state welfare system there to support us when we do! If the political will and the compassion is there it can be done - as countries like sweden so amply demonstrate!

i hope that when our national assembly hopefully does aquire the powers it needs to make a real difference to poverty in wales it wil look to countries like sweden as a example to follow.

Plaid Cymru are peddling the blame 'London labour' line as if their life depended on it (maybe it does).
Huw Lewis once made a point about the Assembly powers in his Child Poverty debate a couple of years ago that the Assembly Government are responsible for the health, education, housing and economic activty of every child in Wales so its not enough to pass the buck to Westminster.
A good point well made, don't believe that this Labour-Plaid Welsh Government couldn't be doing more about it.
believe me I know what it's like living in poverty we now have two grand kids to keep, and boy is it difficult.

But hell I should become an MP and have expenses. thats should help.

then again I cannot crawl that low.
Helen Mary's point was pathetic, another excuse, if she hadn't been in the cosy club she would have taken quite another tack on this.
Poverty is about expectation as well as more practical issues.
That is part of the WAG's portfolio.Developing the economy , making the best of what we have for communities as far as jobs , housing health etc - all those are in WAG's hands - Child poverty comes directly from parent poverty- comes from jobs , services , training opportunities etc.etc. No excuses just prioritise and may be look outwards a bit more.
Not quite the worse! the US is 39 %. with states like California being 42% now that's bad.
The issue Peter is whether centre right and right wing parties like the Liberal Democrats and the Tories (who the Welsh Lib Dems were happy to enter into coalition with) would do any better. I have to say that parties of the right have little track record or ideological attachment to the elimination of child poverty simply because it also requires a commitment to the principle of equality of outcome. Neither the Lib Dems or their Tory mates have ever made such a commitment. Welsh Labour has and Rhodri Morgan reiterated it very clearly in his conference speech just a fortnight ago. Do you really think the Lib dems are committed to equality of outcome? If you do then it will come as a shock to Nick Clegg and his fellow disciples of the neo liberal 'orange books'.
If we are centre right then goodness knows what Labour is currently. We are very much commited to equality of outcome as evidenced by our education policies that seek to provide more resources for children living in deprived communities, a programme abandoned by the Labour Assembly Government by the way with the abolition of the Raise programme.

The issue here though is that Labour made a manifesto promise and have failed to deliver on it. The One Wales Programme contained a similar commitment and Plaid are therefore culpable in that failure.

That will be another promise broken by Plaid by the way, after they abandoned their policy of opposing top up fees and agreed to their introduction in Wales.

The Liberal Democrats do not believe in equality of outcome only equality of opportunity. If you believe in this principle then you are in the wrong party. As a test ask Kirsty if she is happy to confirm in plenary that the liberal democrats are committed to equality of outcome? As somebody who in her leadership address defended the right of her parents to send her to private school (thereby securing an advantage over poorer kids) I think such a commitment is likely and if made would be utterly hypocritical.
I think the test is our policies not the personal views of any one member. How you arrive at equality of outcome is the difference between us I think.
"....As somebody who in her leadership address defended the right of her parents to send her to private school (thereby securing an advantage over poorer kids) I think such a commitment is likely and if made would be utterly hypocritical."

That is inverse snobbery, something the Welsh like to practice, and not a very nice trate to have. This inverse snobbery has created the shit-hole that Wales is today - Congrats!
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