Wales 2011 – One in Four in Poverty…and it’s getting worse.

Quoting the Rowntree Foundation Press Release below:

New Joseph Rowntree Foundation research released today shows that meeting the Welsh Government’s target of eradicating child poverty by 2020 will mean the rate has to fall four times more quickly over the next ten years than it did over the last decade. The latest figures also show almost one in four people in Wales across all age groups – 680,000 – are in poverty.
The research, carried out by Anushree Parekh and Peter Kenway of the New Policy Institute, shows that the child poverty rate fell quite quickly from the early 2000s up to 2005/06, but has risen again since then. Although the rate is still less than a decade ago, the proportion of children living in low-income households has gone up by five per cent over the last five years to 33 per cent – around 200,000 children.

The research is here. (A small pdf) and a similar 2009 study on Northern Ireland is here.
Here’s the Foundation’s Michael Trikey on the Welsh findings.

This is confirmed in the latest JRF Minimum Income Standards report this week. It reveals a staggering increase of over 20 per cent over the last year in the income couples, and single parents with children paying for childcare, need in order to have an acceptable standard of living. Rising prices together with frozen or reduced in-work benefits are the main cause of this squeeze. Low-income families are particularly vulnerable, although the impact extends more widely.
Wales has the highest poverty ‘after housing costs’ poverty rate of the four UK countries. Against a background of sluggish growth, pay freezes, public spending cuts, and fundamental changes in the approach to welfare and tax, the battle against poverty in Wales is going to require a herculean, fully-integrated response from government at all levels, public services and the community as a whole.

The Document is formally issued at the Urdd Centre in Cardiff Bay at 11.00am this morning.
On a positive note the progress made in the early years of the last decade means thing are not as bad as they were 10 years ago – but there’s a fairly brutal combination of low wage, few jobs, food and fuel inflation and pathetic transport infrastructure that’s really hitting the vulnerable hard at the moment.

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  • Harry Flashman

    Bollocks, there is little or no real poverty in any meaningful sense in the UK. Perhaps among a few single people, seperated fathers, pensioners etc. but certainly not for families.

    In the UK housing, education and health are all provided free by the state for families that need them, on top of this are other benefits which mean that frequently families on welfare have higher real incomes than people who actually work for a living.

    “Comparative Poverty” is not real poverty. Poverty means not having the essentials that are required to sustain a home and life, I state again there is no poverty in the UK. Certainly not after two generations of the welfare state when eleventy squadrillion billion pounds has been thrown at eradicating poverty.

    If poverty really did still exist then we would need to seriously consider simply abolishing the welfare state entirely. If after consuming such a tsunami of cash over such a period of time it still hasn’t achieved its objective then perhaps it’s time to look at a different approach.

    Oh, and can we stop this nonsense about “cuts”, this isn’t the BBC, we all know there have been and will not be any real cuts in public expenditure.

    Some of us wish there were.

  • Dewi

    Harry – you’ve lost none of your charm my friend!

  • Greenflag

    ‘ I state again there is no poverty in the UK. ‘

    And there was no famine in Ireland , and the City of London banksters are barely scratching a living and Buckingham Palace is suffering massive cuts in it’s ‘subvention’

    What ‘different ‘approach had you in mind ? More private sector investment in the industry bereft North ? more coal mines in Wales – a bigger and more labour intensive army ,navy and air force ? Perhaps another overseas empire building venture which would provide an outlet for the millions of Brits without a job or those unwilling to work for ‘slave ‘wages ?

    Laissez faire will do it again Harry eh just like it did in the 1840’s in Ireland and in the 1920’s in the UK and the USA .

    Load a bollocks Harry and you know it !

  • Nunoftheabove

    Haven’t seen Thatcher’s name mentioned yet. Soon though, soon. …….

    “I think that’s how Chicago got started. A bunch of people in New York said, ‘Gee, I’m enjoying the crime and the poverty, but it just ain’t cold enough – let’s go west.’”

  • Harry Flashman

    I never really went away Dewi.

    No Greenie I accept that the welfare state is a necessary evil what I object to is the nonsense that;

    a) there is any meaningful poverty in the UK, I live in a country where I see real, in your face, poverty every day and there is no poverty in the UK

    b) that there are cutbacks in public expenditure in the UK, there is a meaningless reduction in the size of the ongoing increase in the amount of money the state is borrowing to fund a massive public spending deficit such that government spending has returned to the bleak, grim, Dickensian levels of, er, 2007.

    There is no poverty and there is no cut in public expenditure in the UK.

  • thethoughtfulone

    In the words of Frank Gallagher, “Make poverty history, cheaper drugs now!”

  • abucs

    I agree with Harry. If there is widespread poverty in any section of the UK then you do have to seriously question the enormous long term impact of the welfare state which takes up a large and continuous section of the GDP.

    If on the other hand there is no widespread poverty in the UK, then you have to seriously question the honesty of the people claiming there is and ask what are their political motives for using such emotional terminology in their lies.

  • thethoughtfulone

    Well it’s all relative isn’t it. If the price of booze, fags, E’s, Sky+ subscription, and mobile phone rental is such that once they’re paid there isn’t enough left to feed the kids properly and put decent clothes on their backs, is that because the welfare state isn’t giving them enough,……………………………………or giving them too much in the first place!

  • thethoughtfulone

    Oh sorry, before the Anne Robinson fan club think they’ve a new hero could I just add that those comments apply equally to ALL of the UK, not just Wales.

  • Reader

    There’s no point in Harry insisting that we should only consider absolute definitions of poverty, or poverty considered by world standards. We can do better than that.
    We live in a cool damp climate, and some poorer families live in areas where it is not safe for children to play on the street anyway. Admittedly, the main risk may come from other poor children;but we don’t believe in collective punishment, do we? So a lot of children live restricted and uncomfortable lives.
    However, many have material possessions way ahead of anything that I saw in my lower middle class childhood. Some of the others will not se the benefit of however much money might be thrown at the adults in the family. So the problem isn’t just money, the problem may not even be mostly money.
    Enough rambling – two points:
    1) Childhood poverty should not be considered under the same heading as poverty in adult households
    2) We should be looking at childhood disadvantage instead – and not considering it in financial terms, which is far too blunt an instrument.

  • Greenflag

    @harry flashman,

    ‘No Greenie I accept that the welfare state is a necessary evil’

    So what’s evil about the ‘welfare state ‘ ? It doesn’t affect economic growth or living standards in Denmark , Sweden or Norway where productivity growth over the past decade has not resulted in huge growth in economic inequality between the top 5% and the bottom 50% ? Why are infant mortality rates , educational standards and a whole range of societal comparative measures in the Anglophone countries so much lower than those in Scandinavian countries , Germany , France and the Netherlands ?

    In an ideal world the need for a welfare state would be minimal but alas stick 7 billion on the planet and divide them into 200 separate ‘entities called nations or countries some with more resources than others etc etc and then there is ‘human nature’.

    In California in 2011 economic inequality between the richest and poorest is the same as that in Mississippi one of the poorest southern states in the 1970’s . The financialisation of the global economy and unrestrained /illegal /legal immigration have all combined to wipe out /erase the ‘western ‘ middle and working classes ‘ .This process continues and is now contributing to political instability on a worldwide scale . The events in Northern Africa and the Syria and elsewhere are just a microcosm of a huge shift in the world economic order as plutocrats everywhere eat out ‘democracy ‘ from within and without .

    Here’s our friend Max Keiser on the latest Germany as predator or victim or both . Is Germany it’s people or it’s banks -class war is coming back big time and the sooner the better so that our politicians are forced to tell the truth .

  • wee buns

    ”We should be looking at childhood disadvantage instead – and not considering it in financial terms, which is far too blunt an instrument.”

    Reader I couldn’t agree more.
    Many a child of wealthy parents is neglected to the point of annihilation.
    However in so called recognized ‘deprived’ areas there is a definite relationship between bad health and poverty.
    The difference in life expectancy between a ‘rough’ housing estate and a leafy suburb is TEN years.

    As for Flashman…FFS who left the troll gate open?
    It is par for the course for many (Blair & co) after having received the best state grammar education, to then insist it must be paid for as well as every other progressive and life letting benefit be stamped on.

  • Harry Flashman

    “However, many have material possessions way ahead of anything that I saw in my lower middle class childhood. Some of the others will not se the benefit of however much money might be thrown at the adults in the family. So the problem isn’t just money, the problem may not even be mostly money.”

    My point exactly.

    There may be people living in dreadful squalor in the UK but, at the risk of being immediately typecast as some sort of Victorian moralist, if people in the UK are living in squalor today they are doing so because they, or admittedly their parents, choose to do so.

    It is not about a lack of money because money has been firehosed at the poor at astronomical levels since the late 1940’s.

    As it’s not about money, and not about the government giving the “poor” the money forcibly confiscated from the working population, then it is disingenuous of the huge industry that is the poverty lobby (made up of once great charities like Rowntree now demeaned to Quangos dedicated to extracting as much money from the public purse) to pretend that the government, ie the poor much put upon taxpayer, needs to spend more.

    My grandparents knew real poverty, my parents also. I am 45 years old and in my early childhood could recognise a couple of kids in class who were known to be “poor”. However some time around thirty to thirty five years ago, coinciding with the massive expansion in public spending initiated by Margaret Thatcher (contrary to the myths) poverty in the UK ceased to be a problem that could be resolved by spending any more money.

    Time for a serious rethink folks.

  • Harry Flashman

    “However in so called recognized ‘deprived’ areas there is a definite relationship between bad health and poverty.”

    Given that the overwhelmingly biggest health problems among lower income people in the UK relate to alcohol and other substance consumption as well as obesity, otherwise known as eating too much, there clearly is no relation between bad health and lack of cash. This is particularly so when the people of the UK all have access to the same free health service.

    I say again if people are “poor” in the UK today they will not be brought out of their so-called “poverty” by giving them even more money.

    That particular theory has been tested to destruction over the past half century.

  • Dewi

    Undoubtedly there are far worse examples of poverty elsewhere in the world but from the report:

    “Poverty is when someone’s resources are so far below those of the norm for the society they belong to that they
    are effectively ‘excluded from ordinary living patterns, customs and activities’.”

    I think it’s a reasonable societal objective to eliminate that – although the term “social exclusion” is probably more apt than “Poverty”.

  • Harry Flashman

    By that definition Dewi I am “poor” because the ordinary living patterns and activities of the people in my street (I am fortunate to have moved into the street several years ago when the house I bought was run down and cheap and before the area became very fashionable) are very much out of my price range. My neighbours have a much higher standard of living than me and can afford far better cars, luxury goods, schools and holidays than I can.

    Rest assured I am far from poor.

    Relative poverty was a concept dreamed up by the quangos of the poverty industry to justify their continued well paid existence long after the welfare state had eliminated genuine poverty in the UK.

  • pippakin

    Poverty in a western European country is very hard to define, most people have the things that used to be considered luxuries, when I was a child a fridge freezer was an expensive novelty now I can’t imagine life without it. The telephone was another luxury and it took at least six weeks for the Post Office to get around to installing one. Colour TVs? who ever thought they would catch on.

    There is another, deeper kind of poverty, when your child is the only child that doesn’t have decent clothing and jobs are what other people from acceptable estates have, because your address can be as big a hindrance as going to the ‘wrong’ schools, then that too is poverty.

    If anything modern British/Irish poverty is harder than it was when everyone was in the same boat. Its not about luxuries and its not about starving its about what we can do to make sure that everyone has equal rights and equal opportunity because the idea that we are all born equal is nonsense.

  • Greenflag

    @ Harry flashman,

    ‘However some time around thirty to thirty five years ago, coinciding with the massive expansion in public spending initiated by Margaret Thatcher (contrary to the myths) ‘

    Not true Harry . Margaret Thatcher managed to increase unemployment to over 3 million from just under a million -so the massive ‘expansion ‘ you refer to was because of the massive de-industrialisation and her anti union and working class campaign of privatisation .

    She did manage to get public sector spending as a percentage of GDP down to 38% at one point in her reign but by the time she was knifed by her fellow Tories it had crept back up to over 40% and was almost back to the pre 1979 level.

    ‘poverty in the UK ceased to be a problem that could be resolved by spending any more money.’

    Not true -it was ameliorated by the New Labour public sector expansion which ‘created’ 600,000 jobs and helped restart the UK economy and provided Tony Blair with three election victories . And the Tories are now busily undoing Blair’s ‘creation ‘ just as Blair undid the Torie’s destructive policies ..

    The private sector is incapable of providing full employment other than under an economic system that ensures riches for the top 20% and greater emisseration for the middle classes . The productivity gains brought about by de-unionisation and technology have gone almost entirely to the owners of capital and to the elite at the top of private and public corporations .

  • abucs

    Hi pippakin,

    the welfare safety net is a universally accepted benefit but it does have negatives and i think it can only work in the context of an overall mindset that sees community and cultural values dominate over a moral relativist state where need is assessed soley on materal grounds and social and economic policy are the sole remit of a ‘neutral secular’ state.

    For example, there will be a family that works hard, values education, saves, goes without things to better themselves and a family who are happy bludging off the state. All things being equal the first family will get ahead and contribute to society. But in a system where the sole criteria is to narrow the gap between the have and have nots in a neutrally value judgement way, the only way to make each family equal over the long term is to punish the family that does the right thing so they don’t get too far ahead.

    This system simultaneously produces a mindset where people believe they are entitled to handouts and it removes the personal and community virtues in society as people learn pretty quickly that they will be punished by the state for getting ahead. All values are treated as equal and the ones that lead to bad outcomes will be financed by the state in the name of equality.

    This creates a moral fantasy land where the population lose touch with how a community needs to interact together to create a viable society. Sooner or later the money runs out and leaves a dysfunctional society with an artificially state created morality that is anti civilization building.

    This is the mindset of the ‘progressive left’ that made
    Eastern Europe a financial and cultural basket case.

    For a welfare state to succeed the state must take a backseat to strong shared cultural values that encourage people to contribute instead of one of state entitlement through self defeating ‘personal rights’ which promotes bad behaviour and drains the public purse.

  • wee buns

    ”I say again if people are “poor” in the UK today they will not be brought out of their so-called “poverty” by giving them even more money.”

    Free housing is great. What about giving them damp free housing? That would be critical to wee Jimmy’s asthma.

    What about giving them amenities, like playgrounds and youth clubs? That’s what keeps the young ones off booze, fags and H.

    What about giving them affordable heat? A young woman died in Dublin last winter because she couldn’t pay the heating bill.

    Whaddabout some basic infrastructure? The 70’s designed housing complexes (many still in operation) lack pavements to walk on; shops; a chemist a post office and bus service.

    These places are what Billy Connelly termed: ‘A desert with windows’.

    Your idea that orgies of booze and junk food are the main causes of ill health in such environments is ridiculous in the extreme.

    As for the Thatcheresque consternation re the welfare system:
    What about giving people jobs?
    I know, I know….. it is a novel idea… but it is a basic responsibility of the government.

    If they can’t provide that (and they do not) then they should STFU about welfare levels.

  • Poverty is a relative term but in my view, a good benchmark is this quote from a poor African

    “I know poverty because poverty was there before I was born and it has become part of life like the blood through my veins. Poverty is not going empty for a single day and getting something to eat the next day. Poverty is going empty with no hope for the future. Poverty is getting nobody to feel your pain and poverty is when your dreams go in vain because nobody is there to help you. Poverty is watching your mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters die in pain and in sorrow just because they couldn’t get something to eat. Poverty is hearing your grandmothers and grandfathers cry out to death to come take them because they are tired of this world. Poverty is watching your own children and grandchildren die in your arms but there is nothing you can do. Poverty is watching your children and grandchildren share tears in their deepest sleep. Poverty is suffering from HIV/AIDS and dying a shameful death but nobody seems to care”. ” Poverty is when you hide your face and wish nobody could see you just because you feel less than a human being. Poverty is when you dream of bread and fish you never see in the day light. Poverty is when people accuse you and prosecute you for no fault of yours but who is there to say some for you? Poverty is when the hopes of your fathers and grandfathers just vanish within a blink of an eye. I know poverty and I know poverty just like I know my father’s name. Poverty never sleeps. Poverty works all day and night. Poverty never takes a holiday”

    What should be done about poverty in Wales?

    The answer is easy. Give them independence, as Dewi would wish and make England £9bn better off!

  • Harry Flashman

    “Poverty in a western European country is very hard to define”

    No it’s not, poverty is very easy to define, it is an absolute term, it has meaning and is simple to comprehend and there is no genuine poverty in the UK.

    What you are talking about is not eradicating poverty but forcibly establishing monetary equality between citizens, ie creating some sort of state enforced socialism, it is not about eradicating poverty.

    Please be honest and stop trying to muddy the waters of the true agenda. There is no poverty in the UK however there is undoubtedly inequality (although it’s balderdash to pretend that children in the UK are doing without warm clothes because their parents can’t afford them, get a grip, have you checked out Primark lately?).

    If abolishing inequality is what you seek then be honest and tell us how you wish to take more money off those hardworking people who have earned it and give it to people who have not.

    Stop pretending this debate is about poverty, it isn’t, there is no poverty in the UK.

  • ForkHandles

    Anyone who thinks that poverty exists in the UK is a sick @#$%. They should go and live somewhere like India and see how the many people who live on the streets there manage to survive. They can only dream of being able to complain about how the government doesnt pay their heating bills or give them money to buy the latest clothes.

    Ask someone living in poverty in Wales if they would like to swap with a person living in poverty in another country and see what the answer is.

    Many people in the UK are poor compared to the average. Relative poverty is not the right term to use, its an insuilt to the many people suffering real poverty around the world.

  • wee buns

    People here are known to live out with a 100mile radius of el cheapo clothes outlets such as Primark or Pennies. Many families do not own a vehicle and even more elderly people do not, and even if they did, they couldn’t afford to run it. The self employed such as farmers and trades people and low income families are just as likely to be disadvantaged as are the unemployed, due to harsh cutbacks and the rising cost of living. Petrol & food costs are higher by 3.2% this yr compared to last. Rachel Peavoy died of hypothermia in a Ballymun housing estate leaving two young sons behind but I await for this to be heralded as an exception despite the death rates each winter among the infirm and elderly.

  • Harry Flashman

    Ms Peavoy’s tragic death is not typical of life in the UK for people on benefits and seems more related to poor construction and maintenance of the Dublin flats in which she lived.

    But if you want to pick out exceptional examples to prove some generalised truth allow me to introduce you to the delightful Ms Joanne Watson.

    A few choice quotations from the article (no doubt to be immediately dismissed because it is the Daily Mail).

    “mother of 14 Joanne Watson – who receives more than £2,000 a month in state handouts”

    “Her 15-year-old daughter Mariah is pregnant, the father has ‘left the scene’, and the youngster is about to start living off benefits.”

    “Despite this, she has still managed to squirrel away enough cash for a £1,600 breast enhancement and a sunbed.”

    “Mariah will be leaving the crowded council house she has shared with her mother and ten sisters and three brothers. Mrs Watson pays only £27 a week rent for the house, a heavily subsidised fraction of the normal cost, receives a total of £160 a week in family allowance for the 11 children still living at home, and another £405 a week in supplementary benefit.”

    It’s tough on Britain’s breadline these days, no doubt Ms Watson will be leading the next Jarrow march.–just-like-mum.html

  • wee buns

    To round on the most vulnerable in society as being the punishable culprits in an economic crisis is a bit of a sport particularly amongst the upwardly mobile, who want to distance themselves from that class of people.
    Fuel poverty in Ireland is by no means isolated to Ms Peavoy’s case.

    ‘THE INABILITY to pay for home heating could be contributing to up to 2,000 winter deaths across Ireland a year, an Energy Action conference on fuel poverty has heard.
    Between 1,500 and 2,000 “excess winter deaths” – the number of additional deaths compared to other times of the year – occurred on the island of Ireland during winter 2009/2010.
    That number is expected to have increased following the harsh winter conditions in 2010/2011, with older people most likely to be affected, according to Age Action Ireland.
    While 90 per cent of older people owned their own homes, they were asset rich and cash poor, leaving them at a high risk of fuel poverty, said Emer Begley of Age Action Ireland.’

  • rhys

    There are a surprising number of reactionary idiots on here, aren’t there? All poverty is comparative, and if the English tories have stolen everything and fixed the economy to suit themselves there is going to be a lot more of it here, as there is. They stole more from India, undoubtedly, so there is more poverty there, and a little less from the industrial regions of England, so there there is less. It can’t be REAL poverty, though, or the fat, self-satisfied rich would be feeling it …. wouldn’t they?