Balancing the scales: draft Child Poverty Strategy for Wales 2023

July 2023 | Rural poverty, Featured

selective focus photography of woman feeding baby

The Welsh Government recently issued for consultation their Draft Child Poverty Strategy for Wales 2023, a comprehensive document outlining its approach to tackling child poverty. The strategy builds on the investments of the last decade and identifies five objectives and five priorities for immediate action.

However, ongoing research consistently demonstrates the existence of a ‘rural premium’, whereby additional and distinct factors contribute to poverty in rural areas. This consequently raises the question of whether ‘rural poverty’ should be approached and addressed differently from urban poverty, given the multitude of influential factors involved. Alternatively, are the factors that contribute to poverty and the policy strategies employed to alleviate it equally applicable in both rural and urban contexts?

The strategy’s objectives and priorities

The strategy’s objectives aim to reduce costs and maximise incomes, create pathways out of poverty, support child and family wellbeing, ensure dignity and respect by support services, and ensure effective cross-government working. The priorities focus on entitlement, creating a Fair Work nation, building communities, inclusion, and enabling collaboration.

These objectives and priorities could potentially help address various forms of poverty. For example, the focus on reducing costs and maximising incomes could help address the high cost of living in rural areas. Similarly, the emphasis on creating pathways out of poverty could involve improving access to public services, welfare support, and transport in rural areas.

The missing links

Despite these potential benefits, the strategy does not specifically mention or propose measures to tackle many forms of poverty that are prevalent in rural communities, such as rural poverty, fuel poverty, digital poverty, transport poverty, housing and homelessness, and food poverty.

Moreover, the strategy seems to overlook the direct link between these forms of poverty and child poverty. When parents are struggling with issues such as fuel poverty, digital poverty, or food poverty, their children are, by definition, also living in poverty. These forms of poverty can limit children’s opportunities and negatively impact their wellbeing, making it even more crucial that they are addressed in the strategy.

The impact of poverty on child development

Research has shown that poverty is highly correlated with worse child health and impaired development. Inadequate stimulation, maternal depression, and nutritional deficiencies affect brain development and result in poorer attention and cognitive outcomes in later life thus, addressing these forms of poverty is not only a matter of economic justice but also a crucial step towards ensuring the healthy development and future success of our children.

A call to action

While the Draft Child Poverty Strategy for Wales 2023 is a step in the right direction, it’s clear that more needs to be done to effectively combat child poverty in all its forms and in all parts of Wales. The Welsh Government should consider looking at these forms of poverty in its strategy and propose specific, targeted measures to address them. Only by doing so can we hope to effectively combat child poverty in Wales.

Follow the hyperlink to view and respond to the Welsh Governments Draft Child Poverty Strategy for Wales.

Sign up to receive our free news bulletin

Register today if you would like to receive a regular email containing the latest Observatory articles.

Choose a language

You have successfully subscribed

Share This