Child Poverty in Wales Exposed as UK's Worst; 'It Is a Scandal That So Many Children Grow Up in Poverty'
Byline: BRENDAN HUGHES
CHILDREN in Wales are more likely to live in severe poverty than in any other part of the UK, a charity reveals today.
The depth of the challenge facing politicians to raise children's living standards, which are below those enjoyed in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, is exposed in a report released by Save The Children.
The charity found that one in seven children in Wales is being brought up in severe poverty, slightly above the English figure while Scotland and Ireland both had fewer than one in 11 children living below the breadline.
A spokesman for the Assembly Government said solving the problem was the administration's "top priority" but opposition politicians described the figures as shocking and called on ministers to "get a grip".
Save The Children also called on the Westminster Government to reconsider its welfare reforms arguing that even more children would be forced into severe poverty in the coming months without some urgent and concerted action.
Andrew Chalinder, the charity's head in Wales, described the level of child poverty as a scandal.
He said: "Children up and down the country are going to sleep at night in homes with no > heating, without eating a proper mealand without proper school uniforms to put on in the morning. "No child should be born without a chance. It is a scandal that so many children in Wales are growing up in severe poverty." The charity's definition of severe poverty is based on a single-parent family with one child and an income of less than pounds 7,000 or a couple with two children and an income of less than pounds 12,500. It is the first time it has provided a local authority breakdown of the figures which showed that more than half of the 22 local authorities in Wales have a severe child poverty rate of 15% or above.
The Welsh authority with the highest rate of severe child poverty is Blaenau Gwent, where the estimate is one-in-five children (20%). An Assembly Government spokesman said: "There is no higher priority for us than ensuring that children and young people whose lives are blighted by poverty have the same life chances and opportunities as their more affluent peers. "The current economic climate makes it even more important that we retain our commitment to tackling child poverty, by prioritising the needs of the poorest and protecting the most vulnerable. …