​Nearly 25% of Welsh people in poverty, damning report reveals

Reuters / Phil Noble
The Welsh government has failed to make progress on poverty while leaving policymakers “working in the dark” on the issue, a report claims.

The report claims that while 17 percent of people live in poverty across the UK as whole, the figures for Wales are as high as 23 percent.

Released Thursday, it was compiled by the Welsh Assembly’s communities, equality and local government committee.

We are deeply concerned by the Welsh government's lack of progress in reducing poverty, particularly given its long term commitment and investment in the issue,” the report states.

We believe that this is due, at least, in part, to the approach taken by the government to date, which focuses on treating the symptoms of poverty rather than tackling the root causes.

READ MORE: ‘Boys club’ Britain leaves women vulnerable to violence, poverty & hardship – UN report

It found half of those in poverty are from working households, indicating wages are failing to keep pace with the cost of living. It also found the number of people visiting food banks doubled between April 2013 and March 2014.

The investigation says changes in the labor market in recent years mean that once someone falls into poverty it is extremely hard to escape.

The Welsh government needs to get to grips with the low-skilled end of the labor market in Wales, such as the care, retail and hospitality sector.

The report also argued the current system made it hard to get accurate data about poverty.

As a consequence of a lack of data, we heard that policy makers are currently ‘working in the dark,’” the report said. “This is unacceptable.

READ MORE: Emotional toxicity of austerity eroding mental health, say 400 experts

How easily poverty can be addressed in a climate of austerity remains to be seen, even in a partially devolved Wales.

On Tuesday, an economist warned the Treasury’s proposed £15 billion worth of cuts to welfare spending will fuel a sharp rise in poverty, “enormous hardship” and a “race to the bottom led by the government.

Economist Michael Burke told RT that proposed cuts to child tax credits and working tax credits illustrate a growing divide between Tory policy and the common good.

Of those of working age, the bulk of those payments are to people in work. This partly compensates for low pay, high prices and rents,” he said.

Burke said the “ultimate beneficiaries” of government cuts to child tax and working tax credits are firms who pay low wages. He said these firms are “indirectly subsidized” by the government.

He predicted the proposed cuts to welfare spending would further entrench poverty and inequality in Britain.

The alternative would be to invest to create the high-skill, high-pay jobs we need. Instead, this is the race to the bottom led by the government,” Burke said.