Nearly a quarter of Wales lives in poverty

Photo credit: Harshil Shah via Flickr
terraced houses.jpg
Photo credit: Harshil Shah via Flickr

By Emma Videan

A recent report on poverty levels in Wales was recently released, summarising how poverty has been changing in Wales over the past 20 years. The report revealed that 710,000 people in Wales live in poverty, and this is made up of 185,000 children, 405,000 working-age adults and 120,000 pensioners.

People who live in poverty do not have the minimum resources needed to live a high-quality life, including the need to take part in society. Poverty levels are measured using an income indicator that shows how many households live with less than 60% of the median income for a house of their size and type after the necessary housing costs.

The Poverty In Wales 2018 report found that overall, poverty rates in Wales have seen a gradual decline over the past 20 years. Between 1994-97, 27% of Welsh people lived in poverty, falling to 22% by 2003/06. Since the 2009/12 period it has remained stable at 23% of people. This is higher than the average of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and has been for much of the past 20 years.

Pensioners have the lowest poverty rate in Wales, however it is at it’s highest amongst families with children, with over 25% of people living with income poverty between 2013-16. In Wales, 23% of working-age adults live with income poverty compared to the English average of 21% and the Scottish average of 19%. While the Welsh child poverty rate is now similar to that of the English average at 30%, it is still considerably higher than the Scottish average of 23%.

The rate of lone parents suffering from an income deficit has fallen considerably in the past 20 years, but the figure remains high at 45%, more than double than that of couples with children. However, since 2003/06 statistics show that the rate for couple with children has been rising.

Importantly though in Wales, worklessness has fallen, employment has risen and adults now have better working skills than they used to. Since 2010, children from lower-income backgrounds have been catching up with those from better-off backgrounds on educational attainment. While they remain much less likely to leave school with better qualifications, they do have more opportunities to achieve.

Shadow Economy Secretary, Russell George has said: “After 19 years of devolution Welsh workers continue to endure the lowest take-home pay in Britain. We need to see action from the Welsh Labour Government to drive up standards and create quality jobs, but it’s difficult to have any faith after two decades and four major economic re-launches produced such bleak results.”
“Life can be a daily struggle for people on low wages, and it can be hard enough to keep up with the rising cost of essentials, let alone scrape enough savings together to get on the housing ladder.”