Adequate standard of living / poverty – Welsh Government assessment
The Welsh Government’s commitment to introduce the socio-economic duty from March 2021 is welcome. But Wales remains the UK nation with the highest levels of poverty, with no significant improvements in people’s outcomes over recent years. The number of people relying on foodbanks and the number of households threatened with homelessness have recently increased. The pandemic is likely to increase levels of poverty further in Wales, with reduced earnings and a potential economic downturn. However, the Welsh Government has stated that it does not believe it has the primary policy and fiscal levers, especially in terms of the welfare system, needed to get rid of poverty in Wales.
- For the three-year period up to 2019, 23% of people in Wales lived in relative poverty, (approximately 700,000 people) – this is the highest poverty rate of the UK nations.
- It has been estimated that, by 2021, 27% of the Welsh population will be living in relative poverty, and that 39% of children will live in poverty.
- In-work poverty is a big concern – for the three year period up to 2019, 130,000 working-age adults in Wales were in relative poverty after housing costs despite living in households where all adults worked.
- In Wales, 10,737 households were assessed as being threatened with homelessness in 2018-19, an increase of 18% on the previous year.
- The Welsh Government’s COVID-19 Socioeconomic Subgroup report (2020) found that factors influencing negative COVID-19 outcomes for ethnic minority people included structural and systemic racism, as well as income and employment insecurity.
- There was a 56% increase in the number of emergency food supplies provided by Trussell Trust foodbanks across Wales between 2015-16 and 2019-20.
- In April 2020, there was a 89% increase in the number of people supported by food bank parcels, and a 101% increase in the number of children supported, compared with April 2019.
- Approximately 16% of the working age population worked in a sector shut down by the pandemic. This was projected to reduce the earnings of young adults, many ethnic minority people (Bangladeshi, Black Caribbean, Pakistani), women, and those on the lowest incomes.
- In December 2016, the Welsh Government stated that it would not meet its target of ending child poverty in Wales by 2020 and, , the Welsh Government no longer works towards an aim of eradicating child poverty.
- The Welsh Government’s Prosperity for All strategy focuses on the promotion of economic prosperity but the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights stated in 2019 that the strategy ‘has no strategic focus or ministerial responsibility for poverty reduction, and lacks clear performance targets and progress indicators’.
Read more about the UK and Welsh Governments’ actions on adequate standard of living / poverty.