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Child Poverty Strategy for Wales

Child Poverty in Wales and how the Welsh Government are trying to reduce it.


In 2010, the Welsh Government set out an ambitious goal that no child in Wales would live in poverty by 2020. What was the strategy, how was it to be measured and what is the current situation? Flowers Day Nursery investigates.


The Strategy


Following the consultation period from May to August that year, the strategy to alleviate poverty amongst the children of Wales was defined by 3 strategies:


  1. To reduce the number of families living in workless households.

  2. To improve the skills of parents/carers and young people living in low-income households so they can secure well-paid employment.

  3. To reduce inequalities that exist in health, education and economic outcomes of children and families by improving the outcomes of the poorest.


Essentially, the strategy was to get those without a job into work, those in a low-paid job to be better skilled to get better-paid employment whilst at the same time making the environment and services available to all children in Wales equitable.


Defining poverty and measurement


The Child Poverty Strategy for Wales February 2011 Information document states:


“By poverty, we mean a long-term state of not having sufficient resources to afford food, reasonable living conditions or amenities or to participate in activities (such as access to attractive neighbourhoods and open spaces) that are taken for granted by others in their society.


The Child Poverty Act 2010 requires the UK Government to achieve the following poverty targets by 2020.

• Relative poverty: less than 10 per cent of children living in relative low-income poverty.

• Material deprivation: less than 5 per cent of children living in combined material deprivation and low income.

• Absolute low income: reduce the proportion of children who live in absolute low income to less than 5 per cent.

• Persistent poverty: percentage of children living in relative poverty for three out of four years.


While recognising the importance of the UK targets, the Welsh Assembly Government, by using the policy levers at its disposal, aims to eradicate child poverty by 2020. To deliver against this aspirational target would mean that Wales would match the lowest child poverty rate in Europe.


The lowest rate ever achieved has been 5 per cent before housing costs.


In Wales, child poverty decreased between 1997–98 and 2003–04 to 28 per cent but has now started to rise to 32 per cent compared to 31 per cent for the UK. This equates to approximately 200,000 children in Wales.


Alongside direct measures of poverty, the Welsh Assembly Government also annually reports against a set of proxy indicators in the areas of early years, income and work, education, health, housing and community. These indicators seek to measure those factors that often correlate with poverty and poor outcomes for children. Interim milestones and 2020 targets have been set for each of these indicators. Of the indicators assessed, half show a clear improvement against the baseline year. Where there has been deterioration or little change, the Welsh Assembly Government will continue to monitor these targets and seek to speed up progress, such as in the area of teenage pregnancy, with the introduction of new pilots.


To measure progress against the three new objectives of this strategy the following key indicators are proposed.


  • Percentage of children living in workless households

  • Percentage of working-age adults with no qualifications

  • Percentage of learners eligible for free school meals who achieve the Level 2 threshold including English/Welsh and mathematics at Key Stage 4.

  • Percentage of live births weighing less than 2,500 grams.

  • Percentage of looked-after children per 10,000 population under 18.

  • Percentage of children living in workless households/low-income families reaching health, social and cognitive development milestones when entering formal education.”



Child Poverty of South Wales by area


In 2012, “Save the Children” published a ‘snapshot’ of the poverty levels throughout Wales. Taking the measures used by the Welsh Government, they analysed unemployment levels, low pay and educational levels of attainment.


Unemployment and low wages are at the heart of child poverty. To understand these drivers of child poverty it is useful to examine some key local economic indicators of households.


Also, “Free School Meal” eligibility is a key proxy measure of household income. At all key stages, learners eligible for free school meals tend to perform significantly less well than those not eligible.ix Poor educational attainment is likely to harm children and young people’s future life chances and perpetuate the cycle of poverty.


Children and young people in Blaenau Gwent

• There are 20,900 children and young people (0-25) living in Blaenau Gwent, 15,132 of them are 0-19 years old

• Of all the 0-19-year-olds in Blaenau Gwent, 4,343 (29%) live in relative income poverty (households at or below 60% of median income).

• There are 16 wards in Blaenau Gwent and 47 Lower Super Output Areas (LSOA’s), 23% of the LSOA’s are in the 10% most deprived in Wales.

• 20% of children and young people in Blaenau Gwent are living in severe poverty (50% or less of median household income) and it least two measures of material deprivation.


Unemployment and Low Pay in Blaenau Gwent


• 24,009 (27.2%) of working-age people (aged 16-64years) in Blaenau Gwent are economically inactive. The national average for Wales is 27%.

• There are 4000 unemployed people living in Blaenau Gwent - 14.3% of working-age people.

• 28.5% of the working-age population are in receipt of key out-of-work benefits.

• 4,760 children and young people (0-18) in Blaenau Gwent live in 2,700 households that are dependent on key out-of-work benefits.

• Median gross hourly earnings across all jobs in Blaenau Gwent in 2011 is £9.41, a 2.0% fall since the previous year. 25.6% of workers in Blaenau Gwent earn a gross hourly wage of £7.20 per hour or less. Wales’ median gross hourly earnings in 2011 is £10.05 per hour.


Educational Attainment in Blaenau Gwent


• 2,665 (26%) of pupils in Blaenau Gwent are eligible for free school meals compared to the 18.2% national average.

• 31% of children and young people who are eligible for free school meals are currently not receiving them.

• Schools currently receive £450 per learner eligible for FSM. Blaenau Gwent receives £1,052,550 in Pupil Deprivation Grant which is 3.25% of the total grant

award for Wales.

• 69 (5.63%) of the 1225 year 11 to 13 school leavers in Blaenau Gwent did not move into Education Employment or Training (NEET) (NEET) in 2011. The post-education destinations of a further 29 (2.37%) students are unknown. The total number of 2011 school leavers NEET in Wales is 2838, a national average of 4.34%.


Children and young people in Bridgend

• There are 40,300 children and young people (0-25) living in Bridgend, 30,130 of them are 0-19 years old

• Of all the 0-19-year-olds in Bridgend, 6,508 (22%) live in relative income poverty (households at or below 60% of median income).

• There are 39 wards in Bridgend and 85 Lower Super Output Areas (LSOA’s), 11% of the LSOA’s are in the 10% most deprived in Wales.

• 15% of children and young people in Bridgend are living in severe poverty (50% or less of median household income) and it least two measures of material deprivation.


Unemployment and Low Pay in Bridgend


• 10,167 (29.0%) of working-age people (aged 16-64 years) in Bridgend are economically inactive. The national average for Wales is 27%.

• There are 5000 unemployed people living in Bridgend - 7.9% of working-age people.v

• 21.5% of the working-age population are in receipt of key out-of-work benefits.

• 7,330 children and young people (0-18) in Bridgend live in 4,120 households that are dependent on key out-of-work benefits.

• Median gross hourly earnings across all jobs in Bridgend in 2011 is £10.08, a 3.6% fall since the previous year. 24.5% of workers in Bridgend earn a gross hourly wage of £7.20 per hour or less. Wales’ median gross hourly earnings in 2011 is £10.05 per hour.


Educational Attainment in Bridgend


• 4,381 (20%) of pupils in Bridgend are eligible for free school meals compared to the 18.2% national average.

• 23% of children and young people who are eligible for free school meals are currently not receiving them.

• Schools currently receive £450 per learner eligible for FSM. Bridgend receives £1,556,100 in Pupil Deprivation Grant which is 4.8% of the total grant award for Wales.

• 140 (4.14%) of the 3378 year 11 to 13 school leavers in Bridgend did not move into Education Employment or Training (NEET) in 2011. The post-education destinations of a further 154 (4.56%) students are unknown. The total number of 2011school leavers NEET in Wales is 2838, a national average of 4.34%.


Children and young people in Cardiff


• There are 123,600 children and young people (0-25) living in Cardiff, 70,420 of them are 0-19 years old.

• Of all the 0-19-year-olds in Cardiff, 18,239 (26%) live in relative income poverty (households at or below 60% of median income).

• There are 29 wards in Cardiff and 203 Lower Super Output Areas (LSOA’s), 16% of the LSOA’s are in the 10% most deprived in Wales.

• 16% of children and young people in Cardiff are living in severe poverty (50% or less of median household income) and it least two measures of material deprivation.


Unemployment and Low Pay in Cardiff


• 18,894 (24.5%) of working-age people (aged 16-64 years) in Cardiff are economically inactive. The national average for Wales is 27%.

• There are 16000 unemployed people living in Cardiff - 9.1% of working-age people.

• 15.8% of the working-age population are in receipt of key out-of-work benefits.

• 18,090 children and young people (0-18) in Cardiff live in 9,150 households that are dependent on key out-of-work benefits.

• Median gross hourly earnings across all jobs in Cardiff in 2011 is £11.19, a 0.4% increase since the previous year. 17.2% of workers in Cardiff earn a gross hourly wage of £7.20 per hour or less. Wales’ median gross hourly earnings in 2011 is £10.05 per hour.


Educational Attainment in Cardiff


• 10,337 (21%) of pupils in Cardiff are eligible for free school meals compared to the 18.2% national average.

• 20% of children and young people who are eligible for free school meals are currently not receiving them.

• Schools currently receive £450 per learner eligible for FSM. Cardiff receives £4,072,950 in Pupil Deprivation Grant which is 12.56% of the total grant award for Wales.

• 441 (6.5%) of the 6789 year 11 to 13 school leavers in Cardiff did not move into Education Employment or Training (NEET) in 2011. The post-education destinations of a further 93 (1.37%) students is unknown. The total number of 2011 school leavers NEET in Wales is 2838, a national average of 4.34%.


Children and young people in Carmarthenshire


• There are 52,500 children and young people (0-25) living in Carmarthenshire, 37,584 of them are 0-19 years old.

• Of all the 0-19-year-olds in Carmarthenshire, 7,291 (19%) live in relative income poverty (households at or below 60% of median income).

• There are 58 wards in Carmarthenshire and 112 Lower Super Output Areas (LSOA’s), 5% of the LSOA’s are in the 10% most deprived in Wales.

• 16% of children and young people in Carmarthenshire are living in severe poverty (50% or less of median household income) and it least two measures of material deprivation.


Unemployment and Low Pay in Carmarthenshire


• 16,446 (34.1%) of working-age people (aged 16-64 years) in Carmarthenshire are economically inactive. The national average for Wales is 27%.

• There are 6000 unemployed people living in Carmarthenshire - 6.5% of working-age people.

• 19.3% of the working-age population are in receipt of key out-of-work benefits.

• 7,730 children and young people (0-18) in Carmarthenshire live in 4,250 households that are dependent on key out-of-work benefits.

• Median gross hourly earnings across all jobs in Carmarthenshire in 2011 is £9.65, a 3.5% fall since the previous year. 25.8% of workers in Carmarthenshire earn a gross hourly wage of £7.20 per hour or less. Wales’ median gross hourly earnings in 2011 is £10.05 per hour.


Educational Attainment in Carmarthenshire


• 4,541 (17%) of pupils in Carmarthenshire are eligible for free school meals compared to the 18.2% national average.

• 22% of children and young people who are eligible for free school meals are currently not receiving them.

• Schools currently receive £450 per learner eligible for FSM. Carmarthenshire receives £1,690,200 in Pupil Deprivation Grant which is 5.21% of the total grant award for Wales.

• 108 (2.89%) of the 3738 year 11 to 13 school leavers in Carmarthenshire did not move into Education Employment or Training (NEET) in 2011. The post-education destinations of a further 9 (0.24%) students is unknown. The total number of 2011 school leavers NEET in Wales is 2838, a national average of 4.34%.


Children and young people in Rhondda Cynon Taf


• There are 72,500 children and young people (0-25) living in Rhondda Cynon Taf, 51,835 of them are 0-19 years old.

• Of all the 0-19-year-olds in Rhondda Cynon Taf, 13,062 (25%) live in relative income poverty (households at or below 60% of median income).

• There are 52 wards and 152 Lower Super Output Areas (LSOA’s) in Rhondda Cynon Taf, 18% of the LSOA’s are in the 10% most deprived in Wales.

• 17% of children and young people in Rhondda Cynon Taf are living in severe poverty (50% or

less of median household income) and at least two measures of material deprivation.


Unemployment and Low Pay in Rhondda Cynon Taf


• 18,733 (22.0%) of working-age people (aged 16- 64 years) in Rhondda Cynon Taf are economically inactive. The national average for Wales is 27%.v

• There are 11000 unemployed people living in Rhondda Cynon Taf -10.1% of working-age people.

• 23.8% of the working-age population are in receipt of key out-of-work benefits.

• 14,730 children and young people (0-18) in Rhondda Cynon Taf live in 8,210 households that are dependent on key out-of-work benefits.

• Median gross hourly earnings across all jobs in Rhondda Cynon Taf in 2011 is £9.22, a 0.6% fall since the previous year. 27.4% of workers in Rhondda Cynon Taf earn a gross hourly wage of £7.20 per hour or less. Wales’ median gross hourly earnings in2011 is £10.05 per hour.


Educational Attainment in Rhondda Cynon Taf


• 9,783 (25%) of pupils in Rhondda Cynon Taf are eligible for free school meals compared to the 18.2% national average.

• 31% of children and young people who are eligible for free school meals are currently not receiving them.

• Schools currently receive £450 per learner eligible for FSM. Rhondda Cynon Taf receives £3,382,650 in Pupil Deprivation Grant which is 10.43% of the total grant award for Wales.

• 336 (5.16%) of the 6506 year 11 to 13 school leavers in Rhondda Cynon Taf did not move into Education Employment or Training (NEET) in 2011. The post-education destinations of a further 117 (1.8%) students is unknown. The total number of 2011 school leavers NEET in Wales is 2838, a national average of 4.34%


Children and young people in Swansea

• There are 75,300 children and young people (0-25) living in Swansea, 47,739 of them are 0-19 years old.

• Of all the 0-19-year-olds in Swansea, 10,789 (23%) live in relative income poverty (households at or below 60% of median income).

• There are 36 wards and 147 Lower Super Output Areas (LSOA’s) in Swansea, 12% of the LSOA’s are in the 10% most deprived in Wales.

• 18% of children and young people in Swansea are living in severe poverty 50% or less of median household income) and it least two measures of material deprivation.


Unemployment and Low Pay in Swansea


• 47,270 (31.6%) of working-age people (aged 16-64 years) in Swansea are economically inactive. The national average for Wales is 27%.

• There are 10000 unemployed people living in Swansea - 9.6% of working-age people.v

• 19.0% of the working-age population are in receipt of key out-of-work benefits.

• 10,900 children and young people (0-18) in Swansea live in 6,010 households that are dependent on key out-of-work benefits.

• Median gross hourly earnings across all jobs in Swansea in 2011 is £9.65, a 2.0% increase since the previous year. 24.6% of workers in Swansea earn a gross hourly wage of £7.20 per hour or less. Wales’ median gross hourly earnings in 2011 is £10.05 per hour.


Educational Attainment in Swansea


• 6,936 (20%) of pupils in Swansea are eligible for free school meals compared to the 18.2% national average.

• 28% of children and young people who are eligible for free school meals are currently not receiving them.

• Schools currently receive £450 per learner eligible for FSM. Swansea receives £2,670,750 in Pupil Deprivation Grant which is 8.23% of the total grant award for Wales.

• 143 (3.5%) of the 4084 year 11 to 13 school leavers in Swansea did not move into Education Employment or Training (NEET) in 2011. The post-education destinations of a further 22 (0.54%) students is unknown. The total number of 2011 school leavers NEET in Wales is 2838, a national average of 4.34%.


Educating your children out of Poverty


At Flowers Day Nursery we are passionate about educating children out of poverty. Save the Children run an evidence-based prevention programme that shows that if children succeed in school they will have stronger life chances because of improved educational achievement in reading, writing and maths, behaviour and better home–school relationships.


Supporting Parents out of Poverty


We have always set our fees at a level that allows us to offer excellent childcare without compromising our mission. As you can see from our excellent inspection reports ever since our doors first opened in 2004, we have always provided good value for money. A variety of childcare vouchers and government funding are accepted, including the "30-hours scheme". Low fees and government funding allow parents to return to work or get a job for the first time. Childcare in Swansea should not be a reason for a home being counted as “children living in workless households”.


2015 Update


In 2015, the Welsh Government released an updated version of the strategy with more detail on what was to be achieved and how it would be measured.


https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2019-06/child-poverty-strategy-for-wales-easy-read-version.pdf


In 2015, the Welsh Government stated that during the period from 2010 to 2013 approximately 200,000 children in Wales live in poverty. That is 31% or nearly one in three and the same figure as when the strategy started!


The defined the goals as:


  1. We want to ensure far fewer children are living in families where no one goes to work.

  2. We want to support parents and young people to have far better skills to help them get better jobs.

  3. We want the same opportunities and chances for all children and young people and for nobody to be held back because of poverty. It is especially important we do more to support people to have better health and education outcomes.

  4. We want to make sure the economy of Wales is as strong as it can be, so there are more well-paid jobs.

  5. We want to support families living in poverty by giving them debt and financial advice, stopping the ‘poverty premium’ and reducing the problems caused by changes to the benefits system.


One of the strategies and one that Flowers Day Nursery supports and works towards is “Improving the educational outcomes of children and families living in poverty.”


This can be achieved by:

  • Building a Brighter Future: Early Years and Childcare Plan supports all children from birth to seven.

  • Parenting in Wales: Guidance on Engagement and Support so organisations know the best ways to support parents.

  • Rewriting the Future so schools in Wales are always improving and giving children the best opportunities.

  • Grants for schools to help pupils who face poverty.

  • Flying Start which supports children so they have the best start in life.

  • Free School Meals / Breakfasts giving children healthy meals.


Where are we at the end of 2021?


Research carried out by Loughborough University for the UK End Child Poverty Coalition, published in 2021 and reported on by ITV Wales, https://www.itv.com/news/wales/2021-05-19/wales-now-has-the-worst-child-poverty-rate-of-all-the-uk-nations-new-study-shows shows that child poverty is still at the same level as it was in 2015 and back in 2010 with 31% of children living below the poverty line, new research shows.


Compare this to England which has 30%, while Scotland and Northern Ireland each have 24% of children living in poverty.

The new data that three constituencies with the highest child poverty rates are in South Wales Central, with Cardiff South and Penarth showing a particularly steep increase in the number of children in poverty over the past 5 years. Also, parts of north and west Wales have seen the most dramatic rise in child poverty in the past five years, fuelled by stagnating family incomes, while, high housing costs in Cardiff are pushing many families finances beyond the brink.

Child poverty rates have continued to rise right across Wales, with the study finding 20 of Wales’ 22 local authorities saw an increase over the past 5 years.

Rural and coastal areas continue to see a rise in the prevalence of child poverty, with Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion are all seeing rates increase above the Welsh average.

Melanie Simmonds, head of Save the Children in Wales and speaking to ITV Wales, is calling for “further support for parents to be able to engage in their children’s learning and development at home and for the eligibility of free school meals to be extended to all children, including over the school holidays, where a parent or guardian is in receipt of Universal Credit or equivalent benefits."

Flowers Day Nursery

We have been educating and developing children as well as supporting families in Swansea since 2004, for babies from 3 months old through to toddler age, preschool and when they first start school. We offer a local childcare drop-off and pick up service during term time to and from the local schools in Swansea which gives working parents the opportunity to maximise earnings for the family, whilst the child or children are in a safe, familiar and supportive environment.

We also offer a planned summer school for primary school-aged children outside of term time which incorporates fun and exciting activities to further support working families in Swansea.

At The Flowers, we understand that juggling work and a busy schedule are extremely demanding and we do everything we can to support you and your child through their early years' development.

Contact us today to find out more about our flexible childcare options.


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