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Report highlights impact of UK government’s ‘welfare reform’ on families in Wales, 11/08/14 [W]

A new report published by Children in Wales today shows the impact that welfare reform is having on many children and families living in Wales.  The report is the result of research which has pulled together poverty related concerns raised by families directly  with MPs, AMs and Citizens Advice Bureaux across Wales.  It highlights a number of problems that families have raised including:

  • Problems arising from the removal of the spare bedroom subsidy or “bedroom tax”, particularly for families with complex needs or where one or more children are disabled.
  • Delays in payments because of the changes to the assessment and appeals process.
  • An increase in the use of food banks which in many cases is associated with welfare reforms and delays in benefit payments.
  • A lack of knowledge about both the changes to the benefit system and funds such as the Discretionary Assistance Fund which could assist people living in hardship.
  • Problems because of the rigidity with which sanctions on benefit claimants are enforced.  Families are having their benefits cut if they are late for appointments at job centres or are not in a position to make full searches for jobs perhaps because they do not have access to the internet.

 

Families are also raising concerns about other issues that are making them struggle including the high cost of living, rising energy costs, increasing debt and high child care costs.  Many of these problems are particularly exacerbated for families in rural areas.

The report calls for an increase in services to ameliorate the impact of poverty particularly in rural areas, as Catriona Williams OBE, Chief Executive of Children in Wales explains:

“This report provides a hard hitting snap-shot of the real impact that the current financial situation is having on families with children in Wales.  It clearly shows the impact that changes to benefits and the introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’ have had. We believe that the welfare system needs to be reformed again so that it can provide a support net for families in the greatest need. The problem of delays in benefit payments needs to be tackled urgently.”

“Governments both central and local must ensure that services are there for the families who are most affected. The problems are amplified in rural areas where families are faced with higher childcare costs, higher fuel costs and a higher level of inadequate housing.  We have heard about families in rural areas who have to walk miles to foodbanks because of lack of transport and about families whose benefits have been sanctioned because they do not have access to the internet to make sufficient searches for jobs.”

Child and Family Poverty in Wales A snapshot of key issues raised by families – http://www.childreninwales.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/children-and-families-in-poverty-in-Wales.pdf
Executive Summary – http://www.childreninwales.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Child-and-Family-Poverty-in-Wales-executive-summary.pdf

Notes

  1. The report, Child and Family Poverty in Wales: A snapshot of key issues raised by families, can be downloaded from the Children in Wales website: www.childreninwales.org.uk/resources/poverty
  1. Children in Wales is the      national umbrella organisation for third sector, statutory, independent  and professional organisations and      individuals who work with children and young people in Wales. www.childreninwales.org.uk.
  1.  Children in Wales was established in      March 1992 and became a registered charity in 1993.  It aims to promote the interests of      children, to improve services in Wales and to put children high on the      Welsh agenda.  We work closely with      our members who comprise professionals, policy makers and consumer groups      to improve the lives of all children living in Wales, but especially young      children, those affected by family instability, disabled children and      those suffering the effects of poverty and deprivation.  We collect and disseminate information      about children and promote good practice in children’s services through      research, policy and practice development, publications, conferences,      seminars, training and access to an extensive library and information      service.  Children in Wales has      offices in Cardiff and Caernarfon.
  1. For further information, please contact      Sean O’Neill on 02920 342434 or email sean.oneill@childreninwales.org.uk