Julie James MS, Minister for Housing and Local Government
The Welsh Government has always put children and children’s rights at the heart of everything it does. Tackling child poverty has been, and continues to be, a priority for all Ministers in this government.
Our Child Poverty Strategy sets out objectives for tackling child poverty. Continued focus and investment in what we know works in tackling poverty using the levers available to us is vital. This includes continuing to strengthen families and communities through our early intervention and prevention programmes Flying Start and Families First, further developing an Early Childhood Care and Education system, improving employability and creating secure, fair work, including promoting the Welsh Living Wage.
Our revised Programme for Government made a commitment to re-engineer existing funded programmes to ensure that they have the maximum impact on the lives of children living in poverty. To support this commitment, we have continued to review what more Welsh Government can do to reduce costs for families, boost incomes and ensure the investment in programmes and services which contribute to tackling poverty is improving outcomes for children and young people, both in the short term and in the long term.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected all our lives in many ways. The consequences of COVID-19 for our economy, our society and communities have been profound. The pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities and the most vulnerable have been hardest hit. The recently published ‘COVID-19 Reconstruction: Challenges and Priorities’ report sets out our priorities to help stabilise Wales as we continue to live with coronavirus, prevent longer-term damage and plan to build a new future.
It is really important we do all that we practically can to mitigate those impacts. We appreciate the contribution that stakeholders and partners make to our work on poverty and the Action Plan which I have published today reflects that contribution. Given the acute financial pressures many families are likely to be experiencing as a result of the pandemic we want to focus on things we can do now. We have agreed a set of practical actions that we will take forward over the next six months to help maximise the incomes of families living in poverty in Wales, reduce essential living costs and provide support to build their financial resilience.
Alongside our immediate response to the Coronavirus and the implementation of the actions outlined in this Plan, we are also working at pace to identify what additional interventions could help alleviate the levels of Child Poverty in Wales in the longer term, in line with the reconstruction priorities recently announced by the Welsh Government. Some of the actions in the Plan will provide us with the evidence and data to inform future development of policy and strategy in this area to ensure they have the maximum impact on the lives of children living in poverty in Wales.