Charity Warning On Child Poverty

Welsh targets to eradicate child poverty will not be met without more money from Westminster, a leading children’s charity has warned. Labour had pledged that child poverty would be wiped out by 2020, but Barnardos Cymru said it had serious doubts that would happen.

More than a quarter of children in Wales are living below the poverty line, according to official figures. Labour said poverty rates has fallen below the overall level in the UK. Figures show that the number of children living in poverty in Wales is down 3% on three years ago.

But Andy James, from Barnardos Cymru, said more investment from the UK Government was still needed to meet ambitious targets. He said: “The Welsh Assembly Government does not have it within its remit to achieve those targets on its own. It needs the Westminster government to make that significant financial investment.”

Charities estimate that an extra £4bn is needed to be spent across the UK to eradicate child poverty – those living in households that bring in 60% of the average income or less.

Chancellor Gordon Brown is in south Wales on Friday to talk about child poverty. A Labour spokesman said the party had delivered a 20% fall in child poverty since 1999. He said: “Labour is the only party offering clear and deliverable plans to tackle child poverty in Wales, placing it at the heart of our manifesto with the aim to eradicate child poverty by 2020.

“Through schemes such as free school breakfasts, a record increase in child benefit, flying start and extra child care places we are making a real difference to families across Wales.”

A spokeswoman for Plaid Cymru said: “Plaid has been saying for some considerable time that the tools required to eradicate child poverty lie with the Westminster government. Reform of the benefit system is required especially in order to improve the lives of those children who are in the most severe poverty.” She added that if the chancellor was serious about eradicating child poverty, he needed to increase benefits.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats said: “We are committed to eradicating child poverty. However, we acknowledge, as stated by the children’s charities, that many of the levers lie with the Westminster Government. If it is probable that the 2010 target will be missed then there seems to be little hope that Labour’s 2020 child poverty commitment can be met.” The party said it would provide £20m extra for childcare.

The Welsh Conservatives’ election manifesto states: “Welsh Conservatives believe that no society or economy can be considered successful while many children live in poverty. A Welsh Conservative government would publish an action plan with clear, measurable targets that would move Wales towards the goal of eradicating child poverty by 2020. While the traditional welfare state has to a large extent ended absolute poverty, the challenge of eradicating relative poverty is perhaps more formidable.”