Progress in tackling poverty and social exclusion in Wales has stalled according to new research which shows both the rate of child poverty and the numbers of people who want to work but cannot get jobs unchanged compared with two years ago. The study, ‘Monitoring poverty and social exclusion in Wales 2007’, is a comprehensive update of the New Policy Institute analysis produced two years ago for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
The new study uses official data published this spring and finds that the overall picture on poverty is mixed. On the plus side, it says, child poverty has fallen from 36 per cent in the late 1990s, when it was significantly higher than the UK average, to 28 per cent, which is just under the average, but there have been no improvements since 2003-04.
Pensioner poverty is also markedly down, from 26 per cent to 20 per cent but among working age adults, the fall has been much smaller with 350,000 people still living in poverty. Worse still, today’s report says, the proportion of disabled working-age adults in poverty has risen, from 30 per cent in the mid 1990s to 33 per cent. The report’s co-author, Guy Palmer said, “The lack of recent progress on poverty is not confined to Wales. The UK-wide figures for 2005-06 are the first in nine years to show a rise in poverty, with increases for both children and adults.”
Other key points in the new report show that unemployment among young adults is still a big problem, with the rate standing at around 10 per cent, that is more than twice that for those aged over 25. The overall rate of unemployment was slightly higher in 2006 than in the previous year. Wales continues to be a low-pay economy with more than ten per cent of men and almost 20 per cent of women paid not more than six pounds fifty an hour.