Today Children in Wales launched the report on the findings from our 5th Annual Child and Family Poverty surveys. The findings are bleak and unacceptable. The surveys sought to understand more about the current issues children, young people and families are facing, the impact this has and importantly, to hear the views of children and young people themselves. The experiences and observations of practitioners and professionals working with over 33,000 families show that the poverty situation is deteriorating for children, young people and families. Families are struggling to cope and are facing financial challenges on a daily basis. In the survey, respondents identified an increase in debt levels, hunger, stress and anxiety. Children and young people themselves stated poverty related bullying and poor emotional health as major issues.
Karen McFarlane, Policy Officer for Poverty and author of the report said:
“The poverty surveys are now in their 5th year and although some of the specific issues differ over the years, very little has changed over this five year period. This is not acceptable. For many children, young people and families living in poverty, they face challenges on a daily basis. Whether that is a decision between buying food or school uniforms, paying for rent or electric, these are real decisions that practitioners see families experiencing on a regular basis. This can also directly affect children and young people themselves and throughout the survey, they highlighted being anxious, worried or stressed by this, often being unable to concentrate at school.”
There were many poverty related issues covered in the survey, including the temporary Universal Credit uplift. We asked practitioners if they believed the temporary £20 had benefitted the families they work with and a large proportion stated that it had. They found that the increase has resulted in children having more food, helped to reduce financial stress and helped to reduce the likelihood of them sinking further into debt. However, they were concerned that when the uplift finished they would see a greater use of food banks, more families in debt, more children being hungry and more children struggling at school
Karen McFarlane commented;
"The temporary uplift of Universal Credit has been a lifeline for many children and their families. The survey results show that for lots of families it has made the difference between putting food on the table or not, although still not always meeting the needs of housing costs, utilities and food. The removal of the uplift will put more families into crisis and this inevitably have an enormous impact on the lives and opportunities of children and young people.”
For further information about the report and its findings, please contact Karen.McFarlane@childreninwales.org.uk